Actor James Cromwell – best known for his role in Babe and TV show Succession – has glued himself to a Starbucks counter in Manhattan to protest the coffee chain’s extra charge for vegan milks.

Cromwell is an honorary director of PETA and has been vegan since he filmed Babe back in 1995.

“More than 13,000 customers have asked you. Now we’re asking: Will you stop charging more for vegan milk? When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals and the environment suffer?” Cromwell asked.

PETA has been urging Starbucks to reverse its policy for years – especially since a bunch of other coffee chains already offer dairy-free milk at no extra charge.

Somehow the staff continued to work despite the 6-foot-7 Oscar-nominated actor glued to the counter, until the police arrived, and Cromwell detached himself.

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is down 52.20 points or 0.74% at midday today to 7,012.50.

Chinese stocks ended higher yesterday as traders digested Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) data releases.

The figures showed demand-side inflationary pressure eased last month, and although consumer inflation reached a five-month high in April, the scope of price increases looks modest from a global perspective and is comfortably below China’s annual target.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average edged 0.2% higher to close at 26213.64, reversing earlier losses amid gains for US stock futures.

“The optimism in the market is backed by the news that the Biden Administration could drop China tariffs,” says AvaTrade’s chief market analyst Naeem Aslam in an email.

In Europe, stocks fell on Wednesday after fresh data showed that inflation – though easing – remained higher than expected last month, feeding renewed apprehension about the Federal Reserve’s likely response and extending a punishing stretch for equities.

In Australia, data on overseas travel and payroll jobs and wages are scheduled to be released today.

 

Riskier assets continued to suffer

Niche pharmaceutical companies were among the Nasdaq’s biggest losers yesterday, with larger tech firms such as Netflix and Facebook parent Meta Platforms both declining more than 4%.

In the unpredictable world of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin lost more ground and continued to trade more than 50% off its all-time highs from last year.

“The bubble-type stocks will continue to unwind, and we’re watching Bitcoin closely,” said Chris Senyek, chief investment strategist at Wolfe Research.

Market losses in areas like those — which have attracted throngs of retail investors over the last two years — could dent spending in the real economy, he warned.

 

War, Covid and commodity prices

Adding to the uncertainty for investors are the war in Ukraine, which has propelled inflation even higher by boosting commodity prices, and Covid-19 lockdowns in China that threaten to hurt the global economy.

“If we only had rising policy rates, or only had high inflation, or only had China or only had Ukraine, we could probably manage that,” said Daniel Morris, chief market strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

“But we’ve got all that simultaneously. That’s why it’s such a particularly challenging environment.”

Aoifinn Devitt, chief investment officer at investment advisory Moneta, said she has been guiding clients toward investments grounded in the real economy, such as in the energy and infrastructure sectors, because of those sectors’ relative strength amid inflation. The selloff among tech stocks, she noted, has been “indiscriminate.”

“It’s probably a sign of fear that has entered the retail investor complex,” Devitt said.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

 Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for May 12 [intraday]:

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Wood fibre stock Midway (ASX:MWY) will sell its existing 17,000 hectare plantation estate in southwest Victoria for $154.1 million.

As part of the transaction, the purchaser has also committed to invest an additional $200 million for land purchases for the development of new hardwood plantations in southwest Victoria over the next five years on land to be sourced by Midway Limited and managed by Midway Plantations Pty Ltd.

“When complete, the change in ownership and control of the plantation estate will simplify the Midway balance sheet and remove annual valuation changes in biological assets that have previously created volatility in the valuation of company held assets,” MD Tony McKenna says.

The transaction is subject to and conditional upon approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Incannex Healthcare (ASX:IHL) has entered into a Share Sale and Purchase Agreement to acquire 100% of APIRx Pharmaceuticals USA.

CEO of Incannex, Joel Latham said: “The acquisition of APIRx presents us with clear long and short term opportunities for significant value growth.”

“Several drug candidates have shortened regulatory pathways to break into areas of patient need representing very large global markets. These candidates are our initial development priority,” he added.

And Grand Gulf Energy Ltd (ASX:GGE) has detected helium concentrations over 17 times background above the primary target at its maiden pure-play helium well Jesse1#A.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS