Mining and energy companies have helped lift the FTSE 100 by 20.25 points, or 0.27%, to 6,981 in early trading.

BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) benefited from a rising oil price on the back of conflict in the Middle East rising 0.3% and 0.6%, respectively. Meanwhile, silver miner Fresnillo (FRES) gaining 3.7% to 780.2p on a positive update.

There was some bad news with diversified miner BHP Billiton (BLT) falling 4.4% to £14.65 to reflect the separation of assets into a newly-listed business called South32 (S32). The latter makes its stock market debut today in conditional dealings; normal trading in South32 begins on 26 May.

Online gambling company Bwin.Party (BPTY) climbs 7% to 106.4p after confirming 888 (888) has made an offer to acquire the company. 888, which is down 3.2% to 164.3p, says there is 'significant industrial logic' to the deal. It follows a takeover approach by smaller rival GVC (GVC:AIM) on Friday.

Takeover rumours lift software group Aveva (AVV) by 7.6% to £19.74. The Sunday Times reports that 'a pack of European and American conglomerates' are plotting bids for the FTSE 250 constituent.

Chocolatier Thorntons (THT) sours 2.5p to 92.5p on news CEO Jonathan Hart, the driving force behind its turnaround, will be stepping down at the end of the financial year.

Tool provider to the life sciences industry Avacta (AVCT:AIM) advances 20.4% to 1p on forming a collaboration agreement with Moderna Therapeutics. Under the terms of the deal the US company has the right to licence any of Avacta’s products, which could generate tens of millions of dollars.

Decontamination specialist Bioquell (BQE) rises 6.9% to 146p after announcing a strategic review of its biological contamination control business.

Pork products supplier Cranswick (CWK) cheapens 18p to £15.70 on profit-taking following a strong run, with annual numbers showing a tasty 10.6% pre-tax profit gain at £57.8 million as sales exceed £1 billion for the first time.

Branded retail products minnow LiteBulb (LBB:AIM) sparks up 4.4% to 0.71p on full-year results showing rapid top-line growth, a swing into profit in the second half as well as news of strong growth in the opening four months of 2015.

Coal of Africa (CZA:AIM) soars by 44% to 6.75p as it secures the mining rights for its Makhado coking and thermal coal project.

Cancer diagnostic and therapy developer ValiRx (VAL:AIM) leaps 11,602% to 27.5p following a share consolidation where every 125 shares worth 0.1% each became one share of 12.4p.

Shale minnow TomCo Energy (TOM:AIM) slumps 32% to 0.14p on news that Red Leaf Resources - the provider of the EcoShale technology necessary to develop its Holliday block in Utah - has pushed back construction of an early production system (EPS) capsule by two years. Red Leaf and its partner Total (FP:PA) have deferred production to 2017 to optimise costs and TomCo will only progress Holliday once results from the EPS capsule are available.

Issue Date: 18 May 2015