We’re kicking off the week with a little bit of happy, but super-nerdy news – one of mankind’s loneliest little satellites has finally been given a software update to help keep it alive.

A team from the Italian Space Agency stumped up the funding and, we suspect, found an old Windows 98 CD under the janitor’s coffee mug, allowing them to send an upgrade of the OS to the satellite, which has been running on it since it leaving Earth just over 19 years ago.

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Mars Express satellite in 2003, sending it screaming through the solar system with two important jobs to do.

First, it had to drop off a Mars rover called “Beagle 2”. Then it was to orbit Mars, probing it with low-frequency radio waves that penetrate deep into the planet’s surface, gently tickling the blushing planet until it gives up the secrets of what lurks under its skirts, so to speak.

Sadly, Mars had other ideas, brutally murdering Beagle 2 as it came in for a very bumpy landing.

Mars Express, peeking into the secrets of the Red Planet like a total space perv. Pic courtesy of the European Space Agency

But the Mars Express has been chugging along quietly. Super-lonely, and running horrendously out of date software, it’s been beaming information back to Earth at rates that would test the patience of a 1000-year-old Buddhist monk.

There have been some promising results that suggest the there might be a sub-surface lake at the bottom of Mars, but nothing concrete as yet, such as how much lithium is lurking beneath the Red Planet’s surface. That might help explain a certain battery-powered Bond Villain-esque billionaire’s obsession with sending people there.

Anyway, according to Microsoft, the particular Windows 98 patch that was beamed up to Mars Express includes several critical security updates to patch several serious vulnerabilities in the decades-old operating system.

So no more danger of space pirates trying to infect Mars Express with ransomware and demanding several billion Bitcoins to unlock it…

TO MARKETS

A surge on US and European markets on Friday had the ASX 200 starting the week on a happy note, with a very positive leap of better than 1.3% after latching on to last week’s barnstorming finish from US and Euro markets.

Things continued in a positive vein throughout the morning, with the benchmark closing in on a 1.7% win for the morning.

Across the market sectors, and it was really, really lovely to see all the needles in the green this morning. Leading the charge were Energy and Materials (both up ~2.2%), coming back from last week’s poor showings.

Utilities and Financials both stacked on better than 1.5%, and the Consumer sectors also tracked well, with Discretionary up over 1.7% and Staples close behind on a ~1.2% gain.

Today’s bolter out of the gates has been a whopper from nickel minnows Widgie Nickel (ASX:WIN), after an early-morning announcement of a groin-busting find at its Gilette North project. The numbers look like this:

  • 12m at 3.40% Ni from 200m downhole including 5m at 4.84% Ni from 206m.
  • 18m at 4.69% Ni from 246m downhole including 4m at 6.35% Ni from 246m and 5m at 5.99% Ni from 259m.
  • 2m at 1.26% Ni from 277m downhole.

Widgie’s price went on a rocket ride as a result, shooting through a 63.0% gain in the first hour of trade, before settling around the +40.0% range.

Among the fancy-pants players, Metcash (ASX:MTS) had investors bouncing with joy after solid full year results showed the company in great shape.

Metcash reported record group revenue of $17.4 billion, a 6.4% rise on last year’s efforts despite a host of issues (COVID, war, floods… the usual stuff) the company had to overcome.

And Sayona Mining (ASX:SYA) continued its lurch out of last week’s decline, putting on ~10.0% in early trade after the group announced yet another decent lithium find, this time at its Moblan Lithium Project in “Québec”, which is French for Canada.

Shedding a few bucks’ worth of value this morning was big miner Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), after it announced that production forecasts are substantially lower than desirable, sending its price down more than 21.0% before rallying slightly as lunchtime approached.

Overseas, and on Friday, US markets had an absolute cracker of a day on Friday, despite all evidence pointing to the entire country sliding into what looks disturbingly like a complete societal meltdown over a handful of Supreme Court decisions around tinderbox issues.

The Dow added 2.68%, the S&P surged 3.06% and the Nasdaq added 3.34% – and even the FTSE jumped as well (up 3.06%), lending plenty of momentum to local markets as we kicked off the week. How the US market opens up after the weekend of chaos remains to be seen.

Asian markets are, however, enjoying a positive start to the week as well with Hong Kong leading the charge, up 1.77% so far. Japanese shares are climbing as well, up 1.04% with Shanghai bringing up the rear, to the tune of +0.78%.

To commodities, where results have been mixed across the various markets. Oil (down 0.15%) and gas (0.96%) have fallen, despite a tightening market and a deepening of the economic side of the conflict in Ukraine.

The uncertain future for China’s economic situation is putting downward pressure on the energy market, as the world’s largest oil consumer struggles to find its feet after a battering from COVID all but shut the country down completely.

Precious and utility metals are enjoying a solid morning, though, with gold up 0.37%, silver adding 114% and copper climbing 1.44% before lunch.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for June 27 [intraday]:

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


Top flyer for Monday morning is Cannindah Resources (ASX:CAE), which has told the market that it’s onto another big copper find at its Mt Cannindah project, with the major news of a high grade zone of 217m @ 1.08% CU, 0.41g/t Au , 17.0g/t Ag (150m to 367m, translating to 217m @ 1.47% CuEQ) occurring within a broader mineralised zone from 121m to 416m that aggregates 295m @ 0.84% Cu, 0.33g/t Au, 13.2g/t Ag, translating to 295m @ 1.14% CuEq.

It is a trememndous result, which the market has applauded with a magnificent 43.0% price surge.

Also faring particularly well this morning was great news from immuno-oncology clinical group Immugene (ASX:IMU), which has reported a win in the war against advanced gastric cancer.

The announcement released by Immugene is somewhat impenetrable reading, but the gist of it is that its Phase 2 study of HER-Vaxx in Her-2/Neu overexpressing advanced/metastatic gastric/GEJ cancer (told ya!) has shown a 41.5% survival benefit for patients treated with HER-Vaxx plus SOC chemotherapy compared to SOC chemotherapy alone.

And some good news this morning for sub-penny struggler BikeExchange (ASX:BEX), which the team in the Stockhead newsroom have been hovering over with defibrillator panels at the ready for some weeks now.

Results from its recent entitlement offer, which brought just shy of $2 million into the company, and a 7.2% stake buy-in from Melbournian fund managers HG Hiscock, have cranked the pedals to help get BEX up off the floor by more than 57% this morning. Go, you little battler.

However, the announcement that non-executive director Dominic O’Hanlon has opted to take his $60,000 annual fee in shares, in lieu of a cash payment, failed to move the needle.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for June 24 [intraday]:

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