A financial services company has been leasing dogs illegally in the US – which apparently has become an option for people instead of paying thousands upfront for a pup.

But if you miss a payment the dog can be repossessed, just like with a leased car.

In Massachusetts, Monterey Financial Services LLC has just agreed to $930,000 in debt relief and restitution to settle allegations that it was leasing dogs – which is illegal in the state.

“Families in Massachusetts looking to get a dog should not be trapped in leasing agreements that are harmful, expensive, and illegal,” Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey said. “We will take action to stop this exploitive practice of using dogs as emotional leverage.”

The company has been ordered to waive outstanding debt on its leases, provide payments to some consumers and transfer full ownership of the dogs to hundreds of residents.

 

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is up 52.70 points or 0.70% at midday today to 7,576.10.

Investors remained focused on the supply-chain disruption caused by the war in Ukraine and Covid-19 lockdowns in China.

“China is facing one of the most serious economic challenges since the global financial crisis, and the root cause of it is the zero-Covid policy,” Eric Khaw, a senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management, said.

Last Friday, China’s central bank relaxed a key bank lending constraint, while leaving benchmark interest rates unchanged. Beijing hasn’t “come out with enough policy response to offset the damage” to its economy in the first half of this year, said Dan Fineman, Credit Suisse’s co-head of equity strategy for Asia Pacific.

European markets have been closed since Friday due to the Easter public holidays.

And in the US, stocks edged lower to close Monday’s session, while the 10-year Treasury yield continued its upward march following a three-day holiday weekend.

Investors will be keeping a close eye on corporate earnings this week – which will offer insight on how companies are grappling with inflation and which ones are best able to pass on price increases to customers.

“Pricing pressures are going to be pretty intense,” Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for wealth management at Northern Trust said. “Everyone is going to be focused on how margins are affected.”

In Australia, the Reserve Bank releases minutes of the April 5 meeting are due today, along with the release of the household spending indicator.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for April 19 [intraday]:

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

 

Copper Strike (ASX:CSE) released its March quarter trading update, and as of 31 March, it owns 9.14 million shares in Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) – which today announced that its US subsidiary had finalised a non-binding term sheet and been offered a Conditional Commitment for a US$107 million loan from the US Department of Energy.

The loan will fund the initial expansion of Syrah’s Vidalia active anode material facility in Louisiana, USA “to 11.25ktpa AAM production capacity.”

Copper Strike says its currently actively seeking project acquisition opportunities.

Surefire Resources (ASX:SRN) says its sights are set on advancing its Victory Bore/Unaly Hill vanadium Project, which currently has Inferred Resources of 237Mt at 0.43% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), 24.9% iron, and 5.9% titanium dioxide.

“The vanadium market is fast evolving as a critical element of the mass commercialisation of large-scale battery solutions in the fast-tracked renewables energy sector,” the company says.

“With demand pressures increasing from specialty metals producers and threats to traditional pushing vanadium prices higher, Surefire’s vanadium outlook is very positive”

Planning is underway for diamond drilling at the project.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS