It’s a new week in the post-COVID bull market — stocks are at record highs and M&A activity is alive and well.

BNPL leader Afterpay (ASX:APT) gave markets a serious shake before the opening bell today, when it announced plans to depart the ASX and join forces with the Bitcoin-buying US fintech Square Inc, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

The news sent some positive shockwaves across the BNPL sector in morning trade, as other names in the sector bounced off their recent lows.

Moving from fintech to energy, oil & gas companies Santos (ASX:STO) and OilSearch (ASX:OSH) closed out six weeks of negotiations with plans to move forward on a $22bn merger deal.

And at the smaller end of the market, Red Hill Iron (ASX:RHI) stitched up a deal to sell its joint venture stake for $400m in cash.

In light of all that, the big end of town has made a strong start to the week with the ASX200 up by 1.4% into midday trade.

The big banks are climbing along with energy stocks, while the resources sector is trading flat.
 

WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks at 12pm Monday, August 2:

Swipe or scroll to reveal the full table. Click headings to sort.

Accompanying the jovial tone on broader markets, no less than 13 stocks made an appearance on this morning’s winner’s list following market-moving announcements.

It’s looking like payday for shareholders in iron ore play Red Hill Iron (ASX:RHI), which announced the sale of its joint venture interest in the Red Hill iron ore project for $400m in cash on Friday night.

Stockhead’s resources editor Reuben Adams has all the key details of the transaction here.

Hydrogen play Tlou Energy (ASX:TOU) was also near the top of the winner’s list, almost doubling up in morning trade after signing a binding Heads of Agreement in connection with an Africa-based hydrogen project.

The tri-listed stock, which trades on the ASX, London’s AIM index and the Botswana stock exchange, said its project partner Synergen Met utilises “unique intellectual property in the form of plasma technology to convert methane to hydrogen, and potentially valuable solid carbon via a carbon neutral process”.

“HOA envisages the construction and commissioning of a hydrogen and solid carbon prototype to be installed at the Lesedi Project in Botswana,” the company said.

Elsewhere on the list, BNPL leader Afterpay (ASX:APT) jumped sharply following the big markets news of the morning — a pending $40bn acquisition by US company Square.
 

LOSERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks at 12pm Monday, August 2:

Swipe or scroll to reveal the full table. Click headings to sort.