Following overnight strength in Europe and on Wall Street, the benchmark ASX200 is striding into lunch, buoyed by another strong showing from the tech stocks. The top 200 index is heading for a sixth straight positive session, not terribly shabby in volatile times.

The ASX Emerging Companies (XEC) index meanwhile, is tracking 0.2% higher at lunch.

The Federal Budget has been largely well-received by market participants. This morning both CommSec and UBS equity strategists maintained their bullish 7,700 points-by-Christmas-time forecasts.

CommSec is particularly taken about the combo of further stimulatory government spending, a low interest rate environment and the encouraging economic growth that the Treasurer Josh Fyrdenberg has been excited about.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman says this’ll support Australian shares right through till Santa comes. There’s a long way to go, but the benchmark index is up 6% for the month.

More reticent was Barrenjoey’s chief equity strategist Damien Boey who reckons the budget is but a short-term positive for the consumer and not heaps more.

“It adds modestly to infrastructure and housing but does not change the outlook for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) or rate-sensitive spending in 2023.”

Historically, consumer discretionary stocks tend to outperform when retail sales growth picks up, Boey says in a note to clients.

“Hence, we believe there is room for a tactical bounce on the back of budget relief measures. But if the RBA does hike broadly in line with money market pricing, we think that the longer-term outlook could be constrained.

“RBA forecasts suggest that even a few rate hikes are enough to cause real GDP growth to slow from a peak of 5% in 2022 to 2% in 2023 — a rather large and negative delta.”

On the local bourse at lunchtime, the IT names are leading broad market gains. Healthcare, financial stocks, industrials and the consumer discretionary sectors are all outperforming. Despite gains for iron ore, Brent and West Texas, both the energy and materials are the lunchtime laggards.
 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 30 [intraday]:

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Tesoro Resources (ASX: TSO) has nailed some ‘sensational’ intercepts – the best to date – from its flagship El Zorro gold project in Chile.

Diamond drill assays returned “multiple wide gold intercepts from high-grade, strike-extensive zones which remain open at depth and to the south.” Shares are climbing higher at lunch.

Firefinch (ASX:FFX) is up well over 11% as the goldie continues to add to its bounty around the Morila gold mine in Mali, securing a mining licence for its Finkola permit.

The conversion of the exploration licence will pave the way for mining to begin at the Beledjo-Koting deposit, the fourth satellite ore source for Firefinch to feed the Morila mill.

Beledjo-Koting contains an ore reserve of 20,000oz including 0.63Mt at 0.98g/t gold, with inferred and indicated resources of 0.93Mt at 1.01g/t for 30,000oz of gold.

But the unmined deposit is an important source of soft and easy to process oxide ore, meaning it can be blended with fresh rock from the recently reopened Morila Super Pit to improve processing efficiency.

Argenica Therapeutics (ASX: AGN) is up over 7% after the medtech said it received ‘positive results’ from a pre-clinical study of its flagship candidate ARG-007 treatment.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 30 [intraday]:

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Oil explorer 88 Energy (ASX:88E) has slumped over 50% after it warned shareholders of a bad drill result out at its Alaskan tenements.