Yeah. It’s Monday. They’re rarely fun, especially if you’re at your desk, wishing it was still the weekend and thinking about what you’d like to do if you weren’t staring into the yawning chasm of another week’s worth wage-slaving your way towards Friday.

Something like… taking a holiday. Yeah. That sounds nice. Except right about now, you probably wouldn’t want to be a tourist. Not even for all the duty-free tea in China, as the old tax-exempt saying goes.

For instance, you’d hardly want to be flying into Edinburgh airport at the moment, where they’ve taken the art of losing your luggage to stunning new heights.

Because of a staffing shemozzle in Scotland, bags there don’t go missing for a few days. They get banished to a drafty Edinburgh warehouse, where they are cheerfully ignored for weeks – weeks! – at a time.

This leaves people returning to Scotland to wander the moors in tattered rags, stopping occasionally phoning the airport to beg for the safe return of their delicates – except there’s no one to talk to, because they’ve had to shut down the airport’s helpline over the torrent of abuse from locals whose bags have gone AWOL.

Alarmingly, it’s not just Scotland where tourism has taken something of a hit. There’s a small town in Arizona called Jerome – a former copper mining town that’s home to about 450 people, but which has close to 1 million tourists through, every year.

The locals, reportedly a pack of itinerant artist types who took over the town when the copper miners packed up and moved out, don’t like tourists.

So much so, that the local police chief has had to plead with residents to stop screaming at any out-of-towners they see who have the gall – nay, the audacity – to park in a manner contrary to how the locals prefer things are done.

I’m not 100% certain which scenario is worse here: being on the receiving end of a stream of spittle-laden invective from a paint-spattered hippie over how I’ve parked my SUV, or working at an Edinburgh airport helpline, where every minute of every day sounds like the whole of Scotland screaming into a bucket.

But either way, it sure puts things in perspective for a Monday, and the manic chaos that is the Stockhead newsroom seems like a bit of a picnic by comparison.

 

TO MARKETS

Speaking of screamers, the ASX got off to one this morning with a solid leap at the sound of the morning bell, briefly touching a troublingly-devilish 6,660 points not once, but twice, before someone brought in an exorcist to calm things down.

But the benchmark is showing a reasonable start to the week, up around 0.5% before lunch, off the back of a surge from the Energy (+1.8%), InfoTech (+1.4%) and Financials (+0.8%) sectors.

Even Materials seems to be enjoying the morning, climbing more than 1.0% as the sector works towards clawing back the dismal efforts of the past few weeks.

What’s weighing on Aussie markets this morning are Consumer Staples (-1.0%) and Health Care (-0.7%) – the latter climbing down from a few days of barnstorming results led by the medicinal cannabis crowd.

At the top end of town, and – predictably – the big mover is Suncorp (ASX:SUN), which has shot up nearly 6.0% on news that ANZ (ASX:ANZ) has launched a $5 billion takeover of Suncorp’s banking arm.

The move from ANZ would leave Suncorp with its insurance business, super funds and that mud-brick monstrosity of a football stadium in Brisbane.

The other Big Mover this morning was BrainChip (ASX:BRN), which has a habit of moving in mysterious ways, which – it would appear – requires some sort of advanced AI to figure out.

If only we knew someone who could build us one, and could have predicted that BRN would be jumping more than 6.0% this morning on no appreciably large news.

 

NOT THE ASX

Overseas, both Wall Street and European stock markets posted strong gains on Friday after a few big names from the US Fed policymaker club talked things up a bit and got everybody excited.

As Our Guy Eddy pointed out this morning, St Louis Fed President James Bullard said he was indifferent between a 75bp or 100bp rate hike at the next Fed meeting and his Atlanta-based counterpart, Raphael Bostic, also cautioned against the central bank moving “too dramatically” at its next meeting in just over a week’s time.

Closer to home, and Asian markets are tracing similar trajectories to our own, with the Nikkei and Shanghai markets both hovering around 0.5% gains. Hong Kong is performing slightly better, up 0.8% for the morning.

In commodities, oil prices have fallen 0.5% while natural gas has continued to rise, up another 1.94% – and metals have had a strong showing this morning, with gold (+0.5%), silver (+0.6%) and copper (0.9%) all helping our Materials sector become its very best self for a change.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for July 18 [intraday]:

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

 

The top two spots on the Small Caps ladder this morning are occupied by miners, with Kincora Copper (ASX:KCC) soaring a mega-healthy 49% on news about its best assay results to date from its Trundle project.

For those of you into assay results porn, the sexy little numbers look like this: 34m @ 1.02g/t gold and 0.24% copper, including 2m @ 12.6g/t gold and 2.32% copper, within a broader zone containing 104m @ 0.46g/t gold and 0.11% copper.

Lode Resources (ASX:LDR) has also got two solid loads of Delightful Drilling Digits to share from its Webbs Consol Silver-Base Metal Project, which were enough to send its price climbing nearly 40% this morning.

The company says one hole has looks like this: 50.0m grading 284g/t silver equivalent from 17m:

  • 50.0m @ 284g/t AgEq1 from 17.0m
  • 38.1m @ 370g/t AgEq1 from 24.6m
  • 15.0m @ 582g/t AgEq1 from 38.1m
  • 1.1m @ 1,001g/t AgEq1 from 49.9m
  • 0.6m @ 1,362g/t AgEq1 from 52.5m

Another of Lode’s holes looks like this: 31.0m grading 224g/t silver equivalent, including

  • 31.0m @ 224g/t AgEq1 from 30.6m
  • 14.0m @ 336g/t AgEq1 from 38.7m
  • 7.5m @ 482g/t AgEq1 from 45.2m
  • 0.6m @ 1,051g/t AgEq1 from 50.4m

My apologies if I should have marked this NSFW – because those are some fiiiiine-lookin’ figures.

Not faring so well in Small Caps Land was BNK Bank (ASX:BBC) which has shown a -30% result which we are assured is because it went ex-dividend, and not because someone spooked investors by starting a truly despicable rumour that “BNK” stands for “Bank of North Korea”.

And, unfortunately, Besra Gold (ASX:BEZ) and Dundas Minerals (ASX:DUN) both seem to have missed the Materials surge memo today, showing identical falls of 16.6% as we head towards lunch.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the least-best performing ASX small cap stocks for July 18 [intraday]:

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