StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened higher on Tuesday, recouping only a small portion of Monday's steep losses, as ongoing fears of a potential coronavirus pandemic kept investors on edge.

At 0825, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 27.27 points, or 0.4%, at 7.184.10, having fallen 3.4% on Monday.

Insurance group Prudential rose 2.5% to £14.557 after activist shareholder Third Point called on the company to be broken up.

Third Point, headed by US billionaire Daniel Loeb, has taken a near 5% stake in Prudential and written to its board urging it to split its Asian and US businesses.

Supermarket giant Tesco gained 0.5% to 250.6p after it had sold its 20% share in Chinese retailer Gain Land to joint venture partner China Resources, generating cash proceeds of around £275m.

AstraZeneca edged back 0.1% to £74.38, having sold the global rights to a constipation drug, excluding Europe, Canada and Israel, to RedHill Biopharma for $67.5m.

Building materials supplier SIG slumped 10% to 74.92p on announcing the sudden departures of chief executive Meinie Oldersma and chief financial officer Nick Maddock.

SIG had downgraded its earnings guidance last month and said on Monday that adverse trading trends were continuing.

Chemicals company Croda slipped 2.8% to £47.82 after it reported a lower annual profit, citing subdued market conditions, and said its performance in the current year would be second-half weighted.

Oil services company Petrofrac shed 0.4% to 356.96p even as it reported a rise in annual profit that was nevertheless limited by falling revenue and substantial writedowns.

Specialist product manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials added 0.8% to 291.2p, having booked a 16% rise in annual profit, as sales inched higher and cost efficiencies bolstered margins.

Property developer and investor Hammerson gained 2.0% to 226.6p, despite its losses widening thanks to retailer struggles on the High Street.

Defence and aerospace engineer Meggitt reversed 4.7% to 566.51p after it booked a 33% rise in annual profit but warned the coronavirus outbreak and grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft would dent its performance in 2020.

Meggitt also announced that chairman Nigel Rudd planned to stand down to spend more time on his business and other interests.

Engineering company Ricardo sank 15% to 643.4p as it reported a 19% fall in first-half profit after higher sales were offset by one-off impairment and restructuring costs.

The company also warned that its full-year performance would be hurt materially by the impact of the coronavirus on the automotive and rail sectors.

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