In what sounds like the plot of a James Bond or Jason Bourne film, private Israeli spyware is apparently being used to monitor the mobiles of journalists and activists around the world.

The military-grade spyware was reportedly licensed by the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group.

NGO Group denies the claims that the software has been used to hack dozens of smartphones of reporters, human rights activists, business executives and even the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But don’t worry too much, the first thing you learn in any spy novel is to meet in person anyway.

To Markets …

Both European and US share markets were weaker on Friday, weighed down by investors worried about a rise in coronavirus cases tied to the highly contagious Delta variant.

“COVID is starting to affect the market, ironically, for the first time since last summer, when the reopening trade began,” Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management told Morningstar.

The Aussie market was immediately under pressure on Monday, with the ASX200 down 94pts or 1.3% to 7253 on the open.

By 12pm eastern time the benchmark index was still down 1.02%, with Energy (-2%) and Materials (-2.39%) weighing the most. 

WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks in morning trade for Monday, July 19:

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

The biggest gainer today is Empired (ASX:EPD) up 59.45% off the back of news its board has recommended the $1.35 cash offer From Capgemini to acquire 100% of the issued share capital of the company.

Predictive Discovery (ASX:PDI) is up a healthy 47.37% after announcing Bonanza gold grades at its Bankan project in Guinea.

And Valmec (ASX:VMX) is up 25.78% with Altrad Australia set to acquire the company via a scheme of arrangement where shareholders will receive A$0.413 per share in cash.

Rarex (ASX:REE) is up 16% after announcing a major resource upgrade at its Cummins Range rare earths project of a 47% increase in overall tonnes to 18.8Mt at 1.15% TREO (inc. 0.23% NdPr) + 0.14% Nb2O5.

And Golden Rim Resources (ASX:GMR) is trailing the pack at 12.5% even after hitting 46m at 1.3 g/t gold in oxide at the Kada gold project in Guinea.

Tigers Realm Coal (ASX:TIG) was up 11.11% on a strong June quarter report and Carawine Resources (ASX:CWX) was up 9.52% after news it had identified two compelling new bedrock conductors at Red Bull at its Fraser Range JV.

And IntelliHR (ASX:IHR) was up 9% Q4 exceeding $1m in new contracted business for the first time, a 236% increase YoY.

LOSERS

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort.

The biggest loser today is Inventis (ASX:IVT) down 29.17% on no news.

Infinity lithium (ASX:INF) was down 19.64% on the news of its legal troubles in Spain.

Down 13.7% was Aeon Metals (ASX:AML) after its quarterly report detailed a revised scoping study for its Walford Creek project.

Altium Limited (ASX:ALU) dropped 10.45% on news no further offer had been made after it rejected Autodesk’s acquisition proposal.

And Terrain Minerals (ASX:TMX) dropped 10% after announcing the first pass of drilling at its Smokebush gold project had extended the strike of gold mineralisation.