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LIVE MARKETS-What virus fears? STOXX only 2 points from record high!

·5-min read

* European shares turn positive: STOXX 600 +0.8% * Profit warning hammers Imperial Brands shares * Reports on virus breakthrough lifts markets Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters. You can share your thoughts with Thyagaraju Adinarayan (, Joice Alves (, Julien Ponthus ( in London and Danilo Masoni ( in Milan. WHAT VIRUS FEARS? STOXX ONLY 2 POINTS FROM RECORD HIGH! (1020 GMT) It's hard to believe but there you go: at one point this morning the STOXX 600 was only 2 little points from its all time record high of 424.36 points reached on January 24. While it was expected that the outbreak of the new coronavirus would trigger at least some kind of correction, today's optimism about possible cures are bringing us back to the levels of the end-year / new year rally. European stocks have somewhat reduced speed a tad, now up 1.1%. An extra 0.6% rise from here is all it would take to go back unchartered highs: (Julien Ponthus) ***** CORNONAVIRUS: IT'S HEADLINE TRADING (0928 GMT) Markets are back to risk-on mode with European equities rapidly erasing opening losses, bond prices falling and the yuan spiking higher, as investors take heart from a series of reports raising hopes about a cure to the deadly cornoavirus. And it's all about the headlines below, although caution remains high, traders tell us. China’s Changjiang Daily, the official newspaper of the city of Wuhan where the virus outbreak began, reported that a team of researchers led by Zhejiang University professor Li Lanjuan have found that drugs Abidol and Darunavir can inhibit the virus in vitro cell experiments. This other headline on Sky News -- Coronavirus: 'Significant breakthrough' in race for vaccine made by UK scientists -- is also giving a boost. (Danilo Masoni and Vincent Se Young Lee) ***** OPENING SNAPSHOT: CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, SIEMENS, IMPERIAL (0830 GMT) We're back to coronavirus plays with sectors such as luxury/retail and travel & leisure underperforming the broader market. As expected, losses in those sectors were led by Adidas and Puma, both down 1.5%, after Nike's warning overnight on the financial impact from coronavirus in China. In earnings-related moves, Imperial Brands is the top faller sliding 9.6% after the tobacco group said FDA's decision to ban vaping flavours is seen taking a toll on its annual profits. Larger rival BAT down 1.1%. Danish hearing aid maker GN Store tops the risers list +7.7% to record highs after its fourth quarter profit easily beats estimates. Siemens is dragging down the European blue-chip index STOXX 50 after its industrial profits came well below estimates. Here's your STOXX 600 opening snapshot: (Thyagaraju Adinarayan) ***** ON OUR RADAR: SIEMENS, IMPERIAL, ADIDAS & PUMA (0752 GMT) It's a busy earnings day here in Europe with reports coming from banks to industrials to tech. So far the picture has been slightly negative with some major misses and stock futures for now point to slight declines after yesterday's stunning risk-on rally. Siemens tops the disappointments list after the German industrial conglomerate reports a sharp drop in industrial profits due to the ongoing downturn in European manufacturing sector, prompting traders to call its shares 4% to 5% lower. Warning from Imperial Brands that it expects lower profits this fiscal year due to the U.S. regulatory ban on some flavours of cartridge-based vapour devices is seen pushing its shares down 3% to 5%. Footwear makers Adidas and Puma are likely to come under pressure after Nike warned that the deadly coronavirus may have a financial impact on its operations. Adidas has the largest exposure to mainland China. In the UK, housebuilder Barratt Developments is seen rising 2% after solid first-half and strong sales rate in January. Britain's biggest pizza delivery company Domino's reported strong fourth quarter sales. Other notable moves: BNP Paribas seen slightly higher after reporting profit beat on strong fixed income/equity trading; Infineon reports in-line numbers in seasonally weak Q1; Novo Nordisk reports inline results but outlook disappoints, dealers see shares down 1%; Qiagen seen 5% higher after Q4 earnings beat. Other key headlines to digest: France's Vinci eyes further revenue, profit growth in 2020 China lab seeks patent on use of Gilead's coronavirus treatment ABB Q4 profit tops estimates, sees higher operating margin Novo Nordisk sees slower growth this year vs 2019 Budget carrier Ryanair ordered to drop low-emissions ad claims Stainless steel maker Outokumpu posts Q4 profit fall, sees better Q1 Vodafone posts 0.8% third-quarter growth, driven by South Africa (Thyagaraju Adinarayan) ***** EUROPE ON BACKFOOT ON BUSY EARNINGS DAY (0646 GMT) European stocks are seen opening slightly lower after a stunning risk-on rally on Tuesday which wiped off year-to-date losses caused by the coronavirus. Bourses are seen opening 0.2% to 0.4% lower amid fading optimism that China's additional stimulus would cushion the economic blow from the virus which has claimed nearly 500 lives so far. In corporate news, it's a busy earnings day here and so far we have: Infineon Tech reporting in-line results, BNP Paribas' Q4 profit beating estimates and industrial conglomerate Siemens profits taking a hit from a downturn in the manufacturing sector. (Thyagaraju Adinarayan) ***** (Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Joice Alves, Julien Ponthus and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)