The ASX200 index briefly touched a new record of 7,901 today, before retreating to close at around 7,895, or up 0.95% for the day. 

Gold, iron ore and lithium miners all rose, with Mining and Real Estate the two standout sectors on Thursday. 

The rally came on the back of strong gains on Wall Street overnight. 

A note from Chris Zaccarelli of Advisor Alliance, published on the AFR, said: “As we have been saying for over a year now, if the economy continues to expand and corporate profits keep growing with it, the stock market will keep moving higher, even in the absence of rate cuts.”

The positive mood was further lifted after the ABS released the February retail sales this morning, which showed a 0.3% jump from the previous month. 

Real estate stocks also climbed after the soft CPI print yesterday bolstered hopes for a RBA rate cut in August.

“Although the board has said they want more confidence that inflation is coming down, our view is that inflation continues to move in the right direction, and unemployment will continue to rise this year, forcing the RBA to cut in the second half of 2024,” said Josh Gilbert, market analyst at eToro.

“Of course, risks remain, especially with such strong population growth, but a Federal Reserve rate cut in June will also give confidence to global central banks to begin easing.”

In the large cap space, winners were clearly dominated by the miners today:

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Vanguard on the hook after found guilty of greenwashing

Meanwhile, investment giant Vanguard has been found guilty by the Federal Court of greenwashing its $1 billion ethical bond fund. 

The court found that Vanguard misled the investing public numerous times when it made misleading statements about the ESG exclusionary screens that were applied to its Vanguard Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund.

The fund manager had earlier admitted to ASIC’s claims that it indeed engaged in this conduct, and that its representations were false or misleading.

The court will now hand down a penalty in July. As a precedent, a similar case involving Mercer saw the financial services company paying $13m in penalties to ASIC in December. 



Today’s best performing small cap stocks:

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Allup Silica (ASX:APS) rocketed forward on news that the silica it’s sitting on in southern WA is really high quality stuff – >99.5% SiO2 and <100 ppm Fe2O3 – which essentially means that it’s ready to rock in applications such as photovoltaic cells without requiring much work to purify, such as magnetic separation. 

Argenica Therapeutics (ASX:AGN) jumped almost 20% this morning after announcing that the first patient in its Phase 2 clinical trial in acute ischaemic stroke patients has been successfully dosed. The patient walked in to the Royal Melbourne Hospital emergency department and enrolled into the trial following a confirmed diagnosis of an acute ischaemic stoke caused by a large vessel occlusion (LVO). The trial is designed to test how safe ARG-007 is in acute ischaemic stroke (AIS) patients, with safety being a significant regulatory hurdle in neurology drug development.

Euro Manganese (ASX:EMN) has announced it has received approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Chvaletice Manganese Project from the Czech Ministry of Environment. Additionally, the company has appointed Tim Kindred, an experienced, large-scale project delivery professional, as project director for Chvaletice as well.

AIC Mines (ASX:A1M) has reported an updated Ore Reserve estimate for its 100% owned Jericho Copper Deposit, located 4km south of the Company’s Eloise Copper Mine. It now boasts 3.2Mt grading 1.9% Cu and 0.4g/t Au containing 61,100 tonnes of copper and 37,000 ounces of gold, representing an 86% increase in contained copper; and an 86% increase in contained gold.

WA1 Resources (ASX:WA1) has reported more assays this morning, telling the market assays from broad-spaced diamond and RC drilling in the central and eastern zones further extends and demonstrates continuity of the shallow high-grade blanket of niobium mineralisation at Luni, within the company’s West Arunta Project in Western Australia.

In the larger end of town, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) rose after announcing that it was undertaking a comprehensive strategic review which aims to re-set the base business and drive efficiency. The first stage of the strategic review has been completed with a new asset-based organisational structure to be implemented by 8 April 2024. Several of the current executive team will be leaving Beach over the coming months. A targeted headcount reduction of 30% will be delivered across the business.



Today’s best performing small cap stocks:

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Fisher & Paykel (ASX:FPH) suffered a setback as it announced a voluntary limited recall of batches of Airvo 2 and myAirvo 2 devices manufactured before 14 August 2017.

The recall relates to a speaker configuration issue that may result in distorted, intermittent or inaudible alarm sound levels. The costs associated with this limited recall will be around $12 million, which will be provisioned for in the company’s financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2024.

Minerals explorer Horizon Minerals (ASX:HRZ) provided an update on the development of its Cannon Underground Project, and project development pipeline. The dewatering pipeline construction has been completed between the fully permitted  Cannon mine, and the company’s Golden Ridge Mine. The pumping system has been installed in the Cannon pit and the pipeline commissioned. First ore production from Cannon is targeted in the December quarter 2024. 



Anax Metals (ASX:ANX) and Develop Global (ASX:DVP) have started a scoping study to evaluate the treatment of high-grade oxide/transitional ore from DVP’s Sulphur Springs deposit at their Whim Creek JV project.

Conrad Asia Energy (ASX:CRD) has agreed to key terms with PT Perusahaan Gas Negara for domestic gas sales from its Mako field, a milestone that sets the stage for the two parties to finalise a gas sales agreement.

James Bay Minerals (ASX:JBY) has expanded its critical minerals footprint in Quebec, Canada, after acquiring the La Grande East project just 15km from its Aqua property. La Grande East cover 7,000 hectares and includes two identified magnetic lows that are interpreted to trend into Patriot Battery Metals’ (ASX:PMT) 109.2Mt Corvette lithium project.



Regis Resources (ASX: RRL) – pending an announcement regarding an update on the progress of the McPhillamys DFS.

Perpetual Resources (ASX: PEC) – pending an announcement regarding a proposed material acquisition.

Terra Uranium (ASX: T92) – pending an announcement of a capital raise via a placement to sophisticated and institutional investors.

Many Peaks Minerals (ASX: MPK) – pending an announcement to be made by the Company to the market in relation to a proposed capital raising.

Challenger Gold (ASX: CEL) – pending a material announcement in relation to a placement to a strategic investor.

Synlait Milk (ASX: SM1) – pending the release of SM1’s half-year results for the six months ended 31 January 2024 (which will include information in relation to the outcome of discussions with its banking syndicate and Bright Dairy).


At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Anax Metals, Conrad Asia Energy, James Bay Minerals and Many Peaks Minerals are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.