ASX Small Caps Lunch Wrap: Who’s ready for scientific proof that dogs are better than cats in every possible way?
Local markets are rising this morning, as interest rate-related good cheer on Wall Street continues to bleed into investor sentiment at the ASX.
The benchmark is up around 0.9% in the first few hours of trading this morning, with Materials and Resources providing plenty of boost for a market that feels like it just wants to run, and run hard, today.
I’ll get into the specifics of that shortly, but first I feel the need to tell you about some stuff that I’ve learned from a few recent scientific studies into the two animals that people apparently love the most – dogs and cats.
There’s an old adage that people are either a “cat person” or a “dog person” – and it is, anecdotally, true. Most people will happily provide a preference for one of those two animals, in some cases taking it to quite an extreme.
That Japanese fella, Toco, is one such example – he’s justifiably famous for spending millions of those puny Japanese yen to literally turn himself into a dog, a transformation that had the South China Morning Post absolutely baffled in July this year.
Toco’s remarkable transformation is – and this is 100% not true – the reason why the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology set their very best boffins to work, to try to figure out whether there was a link between pet ownership and dementia risk among older adults.
And it turns out, there is. The research, published in the National Library of Medicine this month, made the startling conclusion that owning a dog statistically “played a role in reducing the occurrence of severe dementia”.
But it’s not as simple as owning the dog – it’s what dog ownership entails that helped the oldies not forget where they live, or what shoes are for.
Having a dog, it turns out, is good practice for picking up those stray pellets of poo that old people need to deal with from time to time.
And taking the dog out for regular exercise helped older people stay in better shape, which in turn staves off the effects of ageing.
Not entirely, of course. They’re still going to die… but they won’t be quite so horribly confused when they do.
The study also looked into the benefits of owning a cat when you’re old, and found none; largely because cats are, quite notoriously, four-legged arseholes.
And I say that as a self-confessed “cat person”, albeit one who hasn’t spent several months worth of my salary on a hyper-realistic cat suit. Yet.
We know cats are arseholes, thanks to a different study that appeared recently in a publication called Nature Communications, which looked into the effect on local wildlife that cats have had around the world.
It found, to absolutely nobody’s surprise at all, that cats are rampaging, murderous psychopaths that will happily kill everything and anything they can, sometimes just for fun.
The study identified 2,084 different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects that cats will happily eat, including 347 species of conservation concern, such as green sea turtles – I know, right!?! – and the little brown bat.
Domestic cats were also found to have been responsible for the outright extinction of more than 60 species worldwide, not including dinosaurs or the animals that Noah didn’t quite manage to get onto the ark, like unicorns and dragons and such.
But all of that pales into insignificance, thanks to observations from researchers with the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute on two occasions during boat surveys off the coast of Greece.
Because they have spotted dolphins, with thumbs – which means we, as a species, are now royally screwed.
Granted, the “thumbs” are still just deformed flippers at this stage, which look a lot like bottle openers – so it could just be an intra-species rivalry between the Eurotrash dolphins and the bottlenose variety.
Regardless, the researchers are now trying to figure out if the dolphins are able to operate iPhones with sufficient dexterity to send coherent text messages, but still… it’s probably time we all started getting used to the idea of becoming the loyal subjects of our new aquatic overlords.
Because they’re eventually going to figure out what SeaWorld is all about, and you’d better believe they’re going to be pretty unhappy when they do – those text messages are going to be scathing when Flipper finally flips out completely.
Friday is off to a ripper of a start this morning, following in Wall Street’s steps this morning and stacking on some healthy gains almost across the board.
Outside the market, the headline news this morning is the The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report into Aussie banks, which has found – after exhaustive inquiries and research – that they continue to be massive bastards.
The ACCC took a swipe at the banks for basically acting like petrol stations, passing on costs to consumers as rapidly as possible, while moving glacially when things start moving in a manner that would put a few extra bob in customer’s pockets.
The watchdog also pointed out more of the bleeding obvious, which was that banks utilise a dizzying array of products which have resulted in a market for consumers that is baffling, and bordering on impenetrable, for anyone without a commerce degree.
The XKB ASX 200 Bank Index is up 0.64% as a result.
The market-leading sector this morning is Materials, with a few of Australia’s biggest companies making significant gains early this morning.
That includes market monsters BHP (ASX:BHP), which is up 2.5% to push its market cap above $250 billion, while Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Fortescue (ASX:FMG) are enjoying their own gains this morning as well, rising 2.6% and 1.9% respectively.
The XGD All Ords Gold Index is tracking higher this morning as well, up 1.3% as the precious metal does it’s best to hold its ground at US$2,033/oz this morning.
Languishing this morning is the Real Estate sector, which is giving up some of yesterday’s massive gains as investors take their profits and run, and Consumer Staples is also on the wrong side of the ledger this morning.
Up the fancy end of town, concrete company Adbri (ASX:ABC) is leading the large caps on +10%, after giving the market an update on how things are progressing at its Kwinana Upgrade Project, which is set to consolidate the company’s two existing cement production sites, and “strengthen Adbri’s long-standing position as a sustainable, low-cost cement supplier in Western Australia”.
Wall Street enjoyed another session of gains, as US investors revelled in the novelty of seeing US Fed chair Jerome Powell speaking publicly without tanking the market – it doesn’t happen often these days, which is why New York’s been in an infectiously good mood these past couple of days.
The US session ended pretty well, as the S&P 500 rose by +0.43%, the blue chips Dow Jones index was up by +1.25%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lifted by +0.19%.
Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports that US bonds also rallied (yields down) alongside stocks, sending the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield down 12bp to below 4% at 3.92%.
Traders were also buoyed by the retail sales data, which increased by 0.3% in November as US consumers spent more to kick off the holiday shopping season.
In US stock news, Adobe shed 6% after forecasting that its annual and quarterly revenue would fall below estimates.
The reason for the miss isn’t entirely clear at this stage, but after reading through a couple of interviews with Adobe CFO Dan Durn – which is really his name – it looks like it’s largely down to consumers growing weary of Adobe’s pricing structure and subscription model for payments.
Moderna advanced 9% after reporting that its experimental mRNA cancer vaccine, when combined with Merck’s Keytruda drug, cut the chance of recurrence or death from melanoma by half after three years.
Occidental Petroleum gained 2.7% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 10.5 million shares of the stock worth roughly US$590m.
On the more dismal and garlicky side of the Atlantic, the European Central Bank has fallen into line with the rest of the modern world, keeping interest rates on hold for now – albeit at record highs.
ECB president Christine Lagarde channeled her inner school headmistress, telling anyone who’d listen that she would be leaving the rate there “for as long as necessary”, adding that the Council of Eurpoean Money Goblins “did not discuss rate cuts”.
Pointing out that it’s almost mandatory that, between raising rates and cutting them, Lagarde said there is a “plateau of hold”, inadvertently providing a title for the next James Bond film.
007: Plateau of Hold will be in cinemas December 2025.
In Japan, the Nikkei is up 1.00%, on news that Tokyo’s 400-year-old Kanda Myojin shrine has been taken over by an army of sentient Roombas, which are holding several elderly monks hostage with demands for “a 40-hour work week, and fresh batteries”.
— 千代田区 (@chiyoda_city) December 12, 2023
At least, I think that’s what the tweet says – my Japanese is a little rusty these days.
At the time of writing, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.27%, and Shanghai markets hadn’t opened yet – I’m waaaay ahead of schedule today in a concerted effort to be available for the Stockhead Christmas party, because there’s not much I won’t do if there’s a free, fancy lunch on the line.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for 15 December [intraday]:
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As it was this morning, there’s a fair bit of movement among the small caps, but quite a lot of it is occurring in the absence of fresh news or announcements to the market.
Up the top of the ladder this morning is microcapper Javelin Minerals (ASX:JAV), which is showing a 50% bump according to the steady stream of data pouring out of the ASX computers.
The last piece of information coming directly from Javelin was an entitlement offer prospectus which arrived with very little fanfare from the company on Tuesday, casually announcing that the company is offering a cheeky 1,000,000,000 new shares (and an equally enormous number of attaching options) to existing shareholders at $0.001 a pop.
Global Uranium (ASX:GUE) is up more than 26%, proving that the company name is something of a misnomer as the win has come via news that the company’s exploration licence for the Enmore gold project in New South Wales has been extended for six years.
If the name is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone – it was recently rebadged from Okapi Resources (ASX:OKR) .
And Gold Mountain (ASX:GMN) is climbing today, most likely on the back of two announcements to the market yesterday.
The first was a company update, outlining where things are at with Gold Mountain’s activities in Brazil, where it has secured 57 tenements at the application stage in the Jequié Block of the Sao Francisco craton, cheek-by-jowl with Brazilian Rare Earths.
The company also announced yesterday that it has discovered anomalous lithium concentrations within stream sediment samples at its Juremal project, which is also in Brazil.
Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for 15 December [intraday]:
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