• Emerging markets index ends flat
  • ASX200 0.5 higher
  • Chinese economy hit by COVID-lockdowns

 

Anaemic data out of China has taken the fun out of Monday here in Sydney. April retail sales fell more than 11% year on year, almost twice what was reckoned with. Industrial output fell almost 3%.

China’s central bank also snuffed out hopes of a stimulatory rate easing, despite Beijing allowing for a further cut in mortgage loan interest rates for a segment of home buyers. The Chinese property market remains in something of a hiatus amid structural concerns and major industry debt levels. Risks had been somewhat to the downside given new bank lending in China has already hit its lowest ebb in nearly five years.

The China data hurts the commodity complex and is a negative for AUD and as well as other ‘risk’ assets, although regionally, Asian markets did not have an embarrassing toilet misadventure while asleep.

Meanwhile it’s never good when Goldman Sachs senior chair Lloyd Blankfein decides to share his two pennies to a major issue – this time the chances of looming American economic woe, but with economists at the investment bank cutting forecasts for US growth this year and next – saying the US economy to expand 2.4% this year and 1.6% in 2023, down from 2.6% and 2.2% previously -Blankfein now reckons the chances of a US recession is now a “very, very high risk.”

At home the Australian Institute of Petroleum reports the national average unleaded petrol price rose by 5.4 cents last week to a $1.85 per litre. It seems more if you’ve been visiting Sydney’s inner east.

Certainly CommSec chief economist Craig James says the national petrol price today stands at its highest levels since late March and has gained 34.6 cents a litre from earlier, albeit brief lows.

“Today, some retailers are charging near $2.20 a litre,” James said.

“With the wholesale price near $1.80 a litre, and assuming gross retail margins near 15 cents a litre, pump prices should be closer to $1.95 a litre.”

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP WINNERS

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

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Infomedia (ASX:IFM) has come charging out of a very late Friday trading halt to be trading some 25% higher, thanks to a takeover offer from a US private equity-backed consortium, which includes Perth-based Viburnum Funds and the US private equity giant TA Associates.

Infomedia has come off an earlier 33% shake after it confirmed the $1.70 indicative, conditional and non-binding offer for 100 per cent of the media software play’s shares via a scheme of arrangement.

The consortium had become a new substantial shareholder of Infomedia with 14.5 per cent stake, Friday morning.

Consolidated Zinc (ASX:CZL) is the latest ASX stock to pivot to lithium, locking in a deal to buy WA-based Westoz Lithium for $740,000 in cash and shares.

Westoz Lithium has ~1,400km2 of ground near two of the world’s largest hard rock lithium deposits — Pilbara Minerals’ (ASX:PLS) Pilgangoora project and Mineral Resources’ (ASX:MIN) Wodgina project.

Global Lithium Resources’ (ASX:GL1) Marble Bar Lithium Project (MBLP) is also nearby, Reuben says.

Shares in cobalt and nickel explorer Galileo Mining (ASX:GAL) have soared ~29% this morning to ~70 cents after news regular rich lister and small cap mining investor Mark Creasy had topped up his holding. Creasy ponied up for 3m at 58c per share and now owns 26.35% of Galileo.

Higher education tech company OpenLearning (ASX:OLL) saw its share price rally ~29% today to 4.5 cents after announcing a strategic review of its business “after being approached by interested parties”.

OpenLearning has appointed investment and corporate finance advisory business IBIS Capital to undertake the review. The company said it wants to “ensure that all shareholders are equally informed” but didn’t go into detail about any potential deals.

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP LOSERS

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

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Bamboo fibre underwear retailer Step One Clothing (ASX:STP) has seen its shares dive today announcing it would miss its sales and profits forecasts.

The “no chafe” underwear company, which listed on the ASX in November, said it expects sales revenue growth to be 15-20%, compared to previous guidance of 21-25%. Expected proforma EBITDA is revised downwards to $7-$8 million from $15 million.

STP is pointing the finger at  sluggish growth in the UK and US exacerbated by higher customer acquisition costs and advertising spend.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS YOU MAY’VE MISSED

Uranium-gold explorer Cauldron Energy (ASX:CXU) has announced it has successfully resolved the core recovery issues that have plagued its underground drilling at its Blackwood Gold Joint Venture Project over recent months.

Cauldron said drilling is now progressing well with drill core recoveries of more than 90%, following assistance from specialist drilling technical advisors. The company said it has spent considerable time testing various drillhole diameters and core recovery systems to maximise sample recovery rates.

Future First Technologies (ASX:FFT) has announced Nicholas Chan has resigned as a non-executive director to pursue other activities, effective from today.

Future First said Nicole Ferro will take over the role of the chair of the Renumeration and Nomination Committee. Chan has had 20 million of unlisted options fully paid ordinary shares due to expire in August this year and next year cancelled following his resignation.

Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) has announced it has signed a binding agreement for the staged acquisition of a 100% interest in the Siduarsi Nickel-Cobalt project in Papua province, Indonesia.

Nickel Mines also announced its 80%-owned Angel Nickel Project within the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park on Halmahera Island has started its fourth and final RKEF line.

“To now have all four RKEF lines operating by mid-May, well ahead of their scheduled October delivery is a remarkable achievement by our operations team on the ground in Weda Bay,” Managing Director Justin Werner said.

 

TRADING HALTS

EMVision Medical Devices (ASX:EMV) –  response to a government media release regarding a grant win

Resolution Minerals (ASX:RML)  – capital raise

Future First Technologies Limited (ASX:FFT) – capital raise