London stocks open a touch higher in early trade on Friday with the market relatively quiet for corporate news to provide direction ahead of the weekend. The benchmark FTSE 100 index nudges roughly 19 points, or 0.2%, higher 7,077 in early deals, with utility stocks leading the rise, the index having eased off Wednesday's record closing high of 7,096.78.

Blue-chips are led higher by water group Severn Trent (SVT), up 2% gain to £21.65, closely followed by Centrica (CNA) and SSE (SSE). Oil outfits were notable among gainers with Wood Group (WG.) adding 1.3% to 723.5p, while Tullow Oil (TLW) edges close to 1% higher to 405.55p. BP (BP.), up 1% to 477.45p, will publish more information on climate change issues following shareholder approval. Oil services firm Hunting (HTG) gains 6.1% to 638p as broker Goldman Sachs adds the stock to its 'conviction buy' list lifting its price target from 622p to 709p.

Several miners made gains, too, albeit off the oil and utility pace. BHP Billiton (BLT) rises 0.8% to £14.815, although peers Fresnillo (FRES) and Randgold Resources (RRS) are both off even that pace. Several supermarkets ease back behind Marks & Spencer's (MKS) modest 0.2% decline to 566.75p.

Automotive specialist Ricardo (RCDO) gains 4% to 797p as it seals a £42.5 million deal to buy rail consultancy LR Rail from engineer Lloyd’s Register.

Also in the automotive sector, GKN (GKN) sheds 2.4% to 368p on a broker downgrade by Exane BNP Paribas. Analysts cut its rating from outperform to neutral, though maintain their target price at 380p.

Among bigger movers, Edenville Energy (EDL:AIM) excites investors with news that it is on the verge of applying for a mining licence to extract coal from its project in Tanzania, thereby having raw materials to fuel its proposed power plant. The shares rise 11.1% to 0.05p.

Kazakh oil explorer Roxi Petroleum (RXP:AIM) gains 9.2% to 16.9p as it enters a subscription deal to raise $20 million at 18p per share. The arrangement is with BOCO - a Hong Kong based unit of Chinese industrial firm Bright Oceans - and the funds will be used to develop the flagship BNG asset.

X-ray technology designer Kromek (KMK:AIM) takes a plunge, down 8.5% to 32.5p as it issues another revenue warning. Growth will miss expectations as timing of large contracts continues to dog the company, despite promising progress in firm orders and its pipeline of deals.

Speciality graphene producer Applied Graphene Materials (AGM:AIM) surges 19.4% to 277.5p after reporting promising preliminary findings of independent performance testing. The tests were on graphene reinforced polyurethane coatings using its own graphene.

African Potash (AFPO:AIM) slides 12% to 0.33p as it raises an extra £1.2 million via the placing of 216.7 million new shares at 0.3p each, with the help of Cornhill Capital. Proceeds would enable AFPO to redeem the outstanding convertible securities held by Bergen Opportunity Fund, and for working capital.

Malaysian electricity microcap IPSA (IPSA:AIM) jumps 11% to 2p after winning a Malaysian Court of Appeal ruling in its dispute with Iris Ecopower over a non-refundable deposit. IPSA was awarded costs.

Optimal Payments' (OPAY:AIM) share price adjusts to 301p for the admission to trading of its nil paid rights. Shareholders on the register at 14 April’s close receive an option (nil paid right) to buy 1.66 new shares for each existing share they own at a price of 166p, a 45% discount to the current market price, as we previously explained.

MicroCap eSports business Gfinity (GFIN:AIM) climbs 5.9% to 27p after signing a two-year sponsorship agreement for The Sun newspaper to become official partner and title sponsor of the 2015 and 2016 Gfinity championship series and weekly online tournaments. Gfinity says the deal will hopefully increase audience figures and create new revenue streams.

Drug delivery specialist Midatech Pharma (MTPH:AIM) falls 4.1% to 292.5p on pre-tax losses almost doubling to £7.3 million on growing R&D spend and rising costs. These are the first prelims announced since floating in December.

Carclo (CAR), up 3% to 142.5p, has agreed to license CIT Technology's fine-line technology to UniPixel for an initial five years. CIT will receive annual payments of the greater of $1.65 million or 1.67% of annual net product sales. An initial cash prepayment of $4.67 million had been received by CIT at completion and this was non-refundable.

Sound Oil (SOU:AIM), up 3% to 20.38p, has received the final approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Nervesa field production concession from the Veneto Region.

Issue Date: 17 Apr 2015