In late-breaking news – as in, far too late to be useful – a convicted witch has been officially pardoned, some 329 years after she was sentenced and burned to death.

The reason Elizabeth Johnson Jr was convicted of the foul crime of being a witch has been lost to time – she probably boasted understanding how long division works, or something – but we do know that “spectral evidence” was used to convict her.

Witch trial in Salem, Massachusetts. Lithograph by George H. Walker. Undated via Getty

Spectral evidence was a completely real and totally scientific basis for sentencing someone to death. All the witness had to do was claim in court that the witch had come to them in a dream – either in person or as an animal – and tried to do stuff to them. Bad stuff, not fun stuff.

Given the way the Texas legal system is trending at the moment, we can expect spectral evidence to be back on the books for prosecutors within weeks, followed by a slew of Texas BBQ-style executions, as everyone in the state who wants their partner out of the picture has a dream about a barking dog and goes to the cops.

But on the plus side of the ledger, the ghost of Ms Johnson Jr can now rest easy, no doubt smiling down from her seat beside Satan and cackling maniacally because she can finally say she really got away with it all.

To Markets

The ASX 200 has been up and down like the oh on a yo-yo this morning, with utilities and the little guys holding back strong performances in commercial services and industrial sectors.

At lunch, the benchmark was hovering around a 0.1% higher, but still looked like it was set to fluctuate into the afternoon.

Lithium producers are the Puzzle of the Day, as they took a hammering despite lithium prices remaining stable. Among the big kids absorbing the hits is Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), which has investors weeping rivers of cash as it dropped ~15.0% this morning.

Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR), Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) and Armada Metals (ASX:AMM) have also fallen hard, shedding ~19.2%, ~16.2% and ~15.3% respectively.

Table talk is that it could be down to local lithium producers being heavily exposed to Asian EV manufacturers that have been beaten mercilessly on Asian markets for the past week – but adding to that puzzle is that it’s happening despite China’s recent announcement of a $2,000 rebate for anyone switching from petrol or diesel-powered vehicles to a new EV, as part of a broader (read: enormous) stimulus package to help the country climb out of the COVID doldrums.

Beyond our shores, US markets dropped despite everyone having had Monday off for Memorial Day, with the Dow and S&P falling ~0.6% each, and the Nasdaq slipping ~0.4%.

Asian markets are mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei up ~0.7%, Hong Kong down ~0.4% and Shanghai flat.

Gold is down (-0.60%), oil is up (0.48%) and the Aussie Dollar is up (0.20%) against a stagnant USD.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

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Astro Resources (ASX:ARO) has manged to buck the lithium-bashing trend, posting a decent jump on the back of the announcement it’s staked some highly-prospective lithium claims in the Kibby Basin, Nevada – and grabbed 80% (with the right to increase to 100%) of Greenvale Mining’s Georgina IOCG Project in the new East Tennant Mineral Province of the NT.

Greenvale Energy (ASX:GRV) shares also climbed after it let everyone know that it’s getting serious about geothermal energy production by buying Within Energy, bagging its three tenure applications in Queensland along the way.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for May 25 [intraday]:

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