An Australian-made rover could be sent to the moon as part of a NASA space mission as early as 2026.

NASA intends to use the rover to collect lunar soil that contains oxygen atoms.

And Prime Minister Scott Morrison reckons the mission to the moon is “just one exciting way that we can create opportunity and jobs for the future, and our government will ensure Australians reap the benefits”.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Australia to succeed in the global space sector and is central to our government’s vision to secure more jobs and a larger share of the growing space economy,” he said.

“By 2030, we want to triple the size of our space sector, adding $12 billion to our economy and creating up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs, providing more opportunities for Australians and industries.”

Australian businesses and research organisations will be able to apply to be part of the team to develop the rover, which will be supported by $50 million from the Trailblazer program – part of the Australian Government’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative.

 

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is up 3.1 points or 0.043% at midday today to 7,283.80.

According to Morningstar with Dow Jones, investors are contending with an energy crunch that threatens to add to inflationary pressures just as signs emerge that global economic growth is slowing.

“Investors are running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” said John Buckingham, portfolio manager at Kovitz. “They focus on one thing at a time and buy and then change their mind and sell.”

Global oil prices were mixed, with the Brent crude price down 0.3% to US$83.42 a barrel, but the US Nymex crude price adding 0.1% to near 7-year highs of US$80.64 a barrel.

Base metal prices were mixed as well; lead, copper and nickel fell as much as 1.2% with other metals up by as much as 1.1%.

And gold futures prices rose by 0.2% to U$1,759.30 an ounce with spot gold trading near US$1,760 an ounce.

Iron ore fell 6.2% to US$128.50 a tonne.

Concerns about disappointing economic data have also intensified in the US.

“There is a tone of worry on the data front, and that’s been the factor that hasn’t really turned around yet. We haven’t seen any strong reports that suggest that this is just a temporary Delta variant driven slowdown,” said Anwiti Bahuguna, senior portfolio manager and head of multiasset strategy at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.

The International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for the world economy for this year, citing supply-chain disruptions in rich economies and global health concerns caused by the spread of the contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for October 13 [intraday]:

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

The biggest small cap winner today was PVW Resources (ASX:PVW) up 57% after confirming high-grade heavy rare earths at its Tanami project in WA.

The company says around 80% of the rock chip samples (13/17) from Killi Killi East returned assays greater that 1% TREO with one sample from Watts Rise assaying 3.9% TREO.

“These are significant Heavy Rare Earth results. Following my time as managing director of Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) for over 10 years, I believe these results are as significant as those announced in 2010 when the Wolverine deposit was first discovered at Browns Range,” executive director George Bauk said.

Cannon Resources (ASX:CNR) jumped 35% off the back of news that the first three holes from its diamond drilling campaign at the Fisher East Nickel project have returned high grade nickel sulphides at Musket.

And Trek Metals (ASX:TKM) was up 26% after announcing the potential for a large-scale VMS base metal system at the Valley of the Gossans prospect at its Pincunah project in the Pilbara.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

The biggest loser was a tie today between Metals Australia (ASX:MLS) and Newpeak Metals (ASX:NPM), both down 25% on no news.

Cobre (ASX:CBE) dropped 20% after reporting no economic intersections from RC and diamond drilling at the Endurance Prospect on its Kitlanya East project in Botswana.

Also down 20% was New Talisman Gold (ASX:NTL) after terminating the management services contract for Asia Pacific Capital Group with Matthew Hill to be acting with reduced delegated authority as CEO during his three-month notice period.

And down 18% was Pact Group Holdings (ASX:PGH) after ceasing the sale process of its Contract Manufacturing businesses citing continued market uncertainty and supply chain disruption arising from COVID-19 creating challenges in realising its value expectation.