• The S&P ASX 200 follows US markets closing fairly flat up 0.07%, while the S&P XEC is up 0.53%
  • Pinnacle Minerals accidentally discovers rare earths at the Disruptor Prospect 
  • Wide Open Agriculture gives positive business update, ready to produce Buntine Protein at pilot scale 


It was a pretty flat day for the S&P ASX 200, which closed up 0.07% with markets lacking any firm direction. The S&P ASX Emerging Companies index (XEC) – a benchmark for Australia’s micro-cap companies – rose 0.54%.

Materials was the only sector in the green rising 1.10%, while the remaining 10 finished in the red. Leading the laggards was Consumer Discretionary down 1.14%,  followed by Real Estate, which fell 0.57% and IT down 0.40%.

It was a similar story on Wall Street overnight, where earnings season continues to be the focus with companies showing resilience among a difficult macro economic environment.

Bank of America’s Q1 profit surprisingly beat estimates after its fixed-income desk delivered a windfall, with its shares rising 0.65% after the release.

Goldman Sachs’ profit fell 19% as dealmaking and bond trading slumped in the first quarter. Its investment banking business also remained extremely muted.

Gold bounced back to near the high overnight, supported by a weaker US Dollar after a rally in the precious metal hit the pause button earlier this week.

However, just which direction gold will go remains to be seen with bullion again trading down ~0.24% on Wednesday afternoon to US$2015/ounce. It has risen 1.64% in the past month.

On Twitter @StaH@433 agreed the market was listess today but had some companies he was watching.



What are you eating for dinner tonight? Perhaps you have plans for a healthy stir fry with rice. Well we may all soon need to reconsider our rice consumption with the global rice market forecast to experience its largest shortfall in two decades in 2023, according to Fitch Solutions commodities analyst Charles Hart. 

The rice shortage is set to driving up prices for the estimated more than 3.5 billion people who consume rice globally, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, which consumes 90% of the world’s rice.

Fitch Solutions said the global rice shortfall for 2022/2023 is projected to be 8.7 million tonnes due. The shortage has been put down to several factors including the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as poor weather in large rice-producing countries such as China and Pakistan.

Monsoonal rain hit farmland in the largest rice-producing country of China in the second half of 2022.  Pakistan also saw severe flooding last year.

The price of rice has averaged US$17.30 per hundredweight (cwt) through 2023 YTD and is forecast only to ease to US$14.50 per CWT in 2024.

The rice shortage could also have concerns for food security.

“Given that rice is the staple food commodity across multiple markets in Asia, prices are a major determinant of food price inflation and food security, particularly for the poorest households,” Hart said.

There are some pretty tasty pasta and potato recipes online if that helps.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:

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On the winners’ list today is advanced WA kaolin project developer Pinnacle Minerals (ASX:PIM), which has accidentally discovered rare earths at the Disruptor prospect.

A hole drilled to test historical elevated nickel geochemical results returned elevated REEs in the bottom 40m, including a maximum value of 626.3ppm TREO.

PIM said given the geochemistry of the rock and the overlaying clay regolith, the discovery opens the potential for both hard rock and clay hosted rare earth deposits.  Stockhead’s Reuben Adams goes into more detail about PIM’s fortunate discovery.

Also on the winners list today is Wide Open Agriculture (ASX:WOA) has risen today after a positive business update for Q3 FY23 including that it has has completed the majority of investment required to produce Buntine Protein at pilot scale in a variety of food applications at its R&D production facility in Kewdale, WA.

WOA said it’s in advanced confidential negotiations with a strategic production partner for access and production services at an existing brownfield site with the potential to produce commercial quantities of Buntine Protein. The site already has more than 75% of the equipment and services required to produce Buntine Protein at scale and is expected to expedite time to market.

During the quarter WOA also secured $8 million in project-based funding from National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) for domestic oat milk production, and a $4 million working capital facility.



Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks:

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Hannans (ASX:HNR) has announced its wholly-owned subsidiary Hannans BatRec (Europe) has inked a binding market development agreement with G&P Battery Recycling Limited (GPBR) in the UK.

The deal seems a little complex but basically follows an earlier agreement between Ireland-based Greenhouse Investments Limited with an affiliate of GPBR in 2022.

Benefit of the deal passed was passed to HNR in connection with assignment of Greenhouse’s rights under its recycling licence agreements with Neometals Ltd (ASX:NMT) subsidiary ACN 630 589 507 Pty Ltd,  the owner and licensor of the LiB recycling technology. NMT is a major shareholder of HNR.

Terms of the HNR deal with GPBR include a four-year undertaking by GPBR to deliver 16,800 tonnes of qualifying LiB feedstock (subject to entry into a formal feedstock supply agreement) for a proposed battery recycling operation to be formed in the UK (Hannans Shredding Spoke).

HNR has also granted GPBR the right to earn up to a 20% total participating interest in the proposed UK entity that will operate the Hannans Shredding Spoke by meeting its minimum commitment.

HNR said GPBR founders have 40 years of industry experience owning, managing and operating end-of-life battery recycling companies across Europe and the deal represents a significant milestone in its new recycling strategy.

New Zealand Coastal Seafoods (ASX:NZS) has extended its existing supply contract with Aquadev Pty Ltd for a further 12 months, more than doubling the previous contract value of NZ$800k.

Under the renewed contract, NZS will supply Aquadev with up to NZ$1.7m in dried ling maw over 12 months with the renewal following successful completion of the initial agreement, where the supply quota was completed in full.

NZS said the renewed contract reflects strong demand for NZCS’s dried ling maw products through Aquadev’s existing distribution channels. Aquadev (trading as Matchless Food) is a Victorian distributor of meat and seafood products and has been supplying food businesses in Australia for over 10 years.

NZS said under the contract, it will continue to supply and pack dried ling maw into Aquadev branded 500g retail packs.



Australian Rare Earths (ASX:AR3) – Pending announcement of a capital raise.

Calidus Resources (ASX:CAI) – Also pending announcement of a capital raise.