In some serious Jurassic Park 2 vibes, a British man has been attacked by a pack of otters while walking through Singapore Botanic Gardens – and bitten 26 times.

“I actually thought I was going to die — they were going to kill me,” Graham George Spencer said.

“You got to keep the public away from [the otters] because this will happen again,” he said.

Apparently, it’s not the first time the otters have attacked people, but animal welfare groups have said the animals are not typically aggressive and their actions could have been triggered by a perceived threat.

Otter Working Group member Bernard Seah said otters “cannot differentiate between a person trying to take a photograph of them and someone trying to attack them. So it is always best to keep a distance.”

 

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is down 11.60 points or 0.16% at midday today to 7,229.60.

Global oil prices lifted 1% on Friday with sentiment buoyed by easing concerns over the Omicron virus variant’s impact on global economic growth and fuel demand.

The Brent crude price rose by 1% to US$75.15 a barrel and the US Nymex crude price gained 1% to US$71.67 a barrel. Woodside (ASX:WPL) was up 2% today, while Santos (ASX:STO) rose 1.85%.

Base metal prices were mixed — nickel lost 0.6%, but zinc rose 0.5% and copper fell 0.4% after US consumer price data showed CPI rose in-line with expectations, weighing on moves by investors to buy commodities as a hedge against inflation.

The gold futures price rose by 0.5% to US$1,784.80 an ounce and spot gold was trading near US$1,782 an ounce.

Iron ore slid 3.8% to US$102.60 a tonne on worries about oversupply, but BHP (ASX:BHP) rose 2.55%, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) was up 1.91% and Fortescue (ASX:FMG) rose by 1.55%.

According to Morningstar with Dow Jones, the pan-European STOXX 600 index, which tracks the performance of companies across 17 European companies slipped 0.1% with travel-related companies among the biggest losers as investors eye the possibility of stricter coronavirus restrictions.

The UK government’s new restrictions are relatively light given Omicron’s transmission levels, borne of growing confidence the variant will be less deadly than predecessors, says IG Group PLC senior market analyst Joshua Mahony.

“Thus while the UK economy may see consumer activity somewhat subdued compared with an ordinary December, investors should take solace in the possibility that we could soon see the economy firing on all cylinders once again,” Mr. Mahony says.

In the US, investors are generally optimistic, said Oanda analyst Edward Moya.

Growth in 2022 should be good and US equities should benefit from that, he said, but there is concern about the Omicron coronavirus variant, wage and inflation pressure, and Federal Reserve monetary policy. “I think it’ll be very choppy the rest of the year,” Moya said.

The Federal Reserve’s policy-making body holds its all-important meeting this week, at which it may provide more details about how it plans to wind down its bond-buying program and when it plans to begin raising interest rates.

What concerns stock investors, Mr. Moya said, is that the Fed might turn more aggressive than expected, tightening monetary policy and putting pressure on equities prices.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

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

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

The biggest small cap winner today was Metals Australia (ASX:MLS), up a massive 100% after unveiling an agreement with Sabre Resources (ASX:SBR) to fund exploration and farm-in to the Nepean South Nickel Project.

The JV deal will see Sabre paying $40,000 cash to Metals on signing, then earn an 80% interest by spending $200,000 on exploration within 5 years.

“Sabre plans to carry out key geophysical programs and drilling at Nepean South, which will expose Metals to exploration upside at no cost while the Company advances its key battery minerals projects,” Director Gino D’Anna said.

“The Nepean South Agreement provides for cash payments totalling $110,000 to Metals on completion of earn-in, which exceeds the purchase price of the tenement to Metals, and in addition leaves Metals with a 20% residual interest in the tenement while Sabre funds all the exploration.”

Then up 33% was Osteopore (ASX:OSX) who announced it had secured a lead role in a clinical-industrial partnership with National Dental Centre Singapore and A*STAR research institutes through A$19m project to develop a next generation jaw implant.

The company says the implants will promote faster bone growth, reduce the need for complex bone harvesting processes – simplifying future dental procedures and applications.

And it will give Osteopore access to the $1.26 billion dental bone graft and membrane market, the company added.

Laybuy Group (ASX:LBY) jumped 26% on no news, followed by YPB Group (ASX:YPB) up 25% off the back of signing an MOU with the Singapore operations of global standards giant BSI to develop a suite of white label versions of its MotifMicro1, tracer/scanner and Connect products.

BSI Singapore will exclusively showcase YPB’s solutions to select Government and commercial clients at the official opening of its APAC Open Innovation Lab.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

The biggest loser today was New Talisman Gold (ASX:NTL), down 33% after releasing its half yearly report to 30 September, which detailed the departure of the company’s executive director, chairman and other directors, the appointment of a new board and the termination of the agreement to purchase the historic Broken Hills historic gold mine.

And close on its heels was Great Western Exploration (ASX:GTE) who dropped 26%. The company has completed drilling at its Thunder copper-gold target in WA, with assays expected in February.