Local stocks hit cruise control heading into the Easter break, with steady gains across the ASX in a calm session.

The microcap ASX Emerging Companies index rose by around 0.8%, slightly outperforming the big end of town.

It followed a solid session for US stocks overnight, as the selloff in global bond yields took a breather (for now).

Aussie jobs data today showed another 18,000 jobs added in March, slightly below the forecast gain of 30,000 which kept the unemployment rate holding at 4%.

Looking ahead, the punters reckon more inflation is coming, as the Melbourne Institute’s inflation expectations index rose to 5.2% in April — up from a 10-year high of 4.9% in March.

April 27 looms as the key date for Aussie interest rate watchers, with March quarter headline inflation expected to climb to 4.3%, according to CBA.

Most analysts reckon that will be the catalyst for Australia’s central bank to announce June rate hikes.

CBA economist Gareth Aird said the May meeting is still “live” for a rate hike, but “we continue to see June as the most likely month for the RBA to commence their tightening cycle”, he added.

After the Easter break, global markets will be focused on March quarter US earnings season next week, with big-name companies including Tesla (Wednesday) set to announce their latest results.

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP WINNERS

(Stocks highlighted in yellow rose after making announcements during the trading day).

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

Today’s resources winners held their gains and then some, in another profitable session for junior mining stocks.

Investors rewarded Megado (ASX:MEG) for a pivot to the US rare earths sector, after it flagged the strategic acquisition of Felix Strategic Minerals.

Felix holds the contractual rights to the ‘North Fork’ rare earth project in the mining-friendly Idaho Cobalt Belt region of Idaho, US.

Megado will raise $2.4m to fund exploration at the site, which complements its existing portfolio of gold projects in Ethiopia that the company listed with last October. Shares in the company surged by 77%.

Elsewhere, the mere mention of drilling by resources meme stock Kuniko (ASX:KNI) was enough to whet the investor appetite.

Kuniko will kick off maiden diamond drilling on May 2 at three cobalt-copper sites in Norway, where it aims to advance the Skuterud project, a net zero-carbon cobalt operation.

And while the IPO markets has slowed from last year’s frenetic pace, SA and WA-based battery metals explorer Narryer Metals (ASX:NYM) had a strong debut after raising $5m from investors at 20c.

Outside of resources, esports platform Emerge Gaming (ASX:EM1) posted a ~30% gain on no news.

The spike comes three days after EM1’s latest news, where the company said its MTN Arena platform had surpassed 1 million new subscribers since launch in July 2020.

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP LOSERS

(Stocks highlighted in yellow fell after making announcements during the trading day).

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

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Shortly after 12:30pm EST, oil & gas player 88 Energy (ASX:88E) released its quarterly activity statement and trading update.

The company provided a detailed operating of its five exploration projects — four in Alaska and one in Texas.

88E closed out the March quarter with just over $32m in the bank, and shares in the company rose by around 6% in afternoon trade to 1.6c.

 

TRADING HALTS

SSH Group (ASX:SSH) — Material acquisition

AuKing Mining (ASX:AKN) — Capital raising

Grand Gulf Energy (ASX:GGE) — Capital raising