The ASX lost ground on Thursday. Weak leads out of Wall Street, more threats of Western-led sanctions v. Russia and a more hawkish tone out of the Federal Reserve left the benchmark 0.6% down with a half hour before the closing bell.

Following on from Wednesday’s steep losses, the ASX Emerging Companies (XEC) index was down over 1.3% ahead of the close.

Tech stocks again led the declines, with commodities not far behind after the Nasdaq gave away 2.2% and US Nymex crude fell by more than 4% overnight after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said it will add 120m extra barrels to global markets.

Iron ore is lower, but still keeping its head above $US160 a tonne.

And 10-year bonds – I don’t like to go there, but they are getting all inverty – in the US rose three points to near 2.6% after the Fed minutes came out.

 

Auction action to go nuts: CoreLogic

At home, CoreLogic says auction will go nuts this week. They’re up across national capitals some 27%, with Eliza Owen CoreLogic’s head of research telling Stockhead the near record auction volumes are almost certainly inspired by the looming shadow of rising interest rates.

Meantime there’s a new hero in the ever-happy land of the small-cappy, International Graphite (ASX:IG6).

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP WINNERS

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

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Yes, International Graphite’s (ASX:IG6),main game appears to be the right one.

The integrated mine and downstream graphite business in WA says its goal is to produce battery anode material targeting the mega-growth in electric vehicle production which will drive a huge uptick in graphite demand and pricing over the next decade.

A lithium-ion battery needs 10 times more graphite than lithium, with each EV requiring ~55kg of flake graphite to make the battery anode.

Experts say the supply deficits are already here, and prices are beginning to show it. The Benchmark Graphite Price Index is currently up by 22% year-on-year. A solid bet, for day one.

JV buddies, Legacy Iron Ore (ASX:LCY) and Hawthorn Resources (ASX:HAW) are way, way up – some 75% in fact – having struck a deal with a subsidiary of Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting for an initial $9m to earn into the ‘Mt Bevan’ iron ore project in WA.

Hancock will make an initial investment of $9m to earn a 30% interest in Mt Bevan, with $8m cash being paid to Legacy and Hawthorn in proportion to their interest in the project (Legacy $4.8m and Hawthorn $3.2m).

Hancock will hold a 30% interest, LCY will hold 42% and HAW will hold 28% upon completion of the initial investment.

Carbine Resources (ASX:CRB) today announced maiden drilling at ‘Muchea West’ in WA looks like its hosting a substantial, high-grade, low-impurity silica sand deposit.

“This is not a matter of discovering sufficient material for a commercial operation, but more selecting the first development location and defining the product within that location,” managing director Peter Batten said today.

Strong words, Reuben notes, but the stock is going strong too.

Feisty results like 20m at 99.69% SiO2, 450 ppm Fe2O3 and 313 ppm Al2O3 from 1m do appear to confirm  previous drilling in the high-grade ‘Eastern Area’.

And health and wellness company Wellnex Life (ASX:WNX) killed another quarter with stonkingly-strong revenue growth securing some $5.7 million of Q3 sales, including orders for its liquid paracetamol products.

Q3 revenue was way, way up on the $3.95 million on the prior corresponding period after revenue growth of ~40% in March alone .

Top brands like Wakey Wakey and The Iron Company, both now stocked in Coles and Woolworths, were strong contributors to the result, while there’s a big distribution deal with Mark Wahlberg’s sports supplements in the post.

Okapi Resources (ASX:OKR) is also trouncing Thursday. The explorer will acquire 51% of the high-grade ‘Hansen’ uranium deposit, increasing the company’s resource at the ‘Tallahassee’ uranium project in Colorado by 81% to 49.8 million pounds.

It also increases the overall grade at Tallahassee by 10% to 540ppm. This deal — 22.2 million pounds U3O8 costing just $500,000 — transforms OKR “into significant player in the USA uranium market,”

Their words, not ours, but we like them nonetheless.

 

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP LOSERS

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ANNOUNCEMENTS YOU MAY’VE MISSED

Confidence in Metallica Minerals’ (ASX:MLM) Cape Flattery Silica Sand project just went through the roof after infill drilling boosted Measured resources by 74% to 16.7Mt at 99.26% silicon oxide.

Overall, Measured and Indicated resources have increased from 47.8Mt at 99.18% silicon oxide to 51.9Mt at 99.18% silicon oxide, with the Measured resource area containing the initial mining site for the project.

MLM says it’s this area that contains the highest silica grades and lowest iron content with its location close to the planned processing and transhipping facilities which will minimise material movement and costs.

The upgraded resource and a new ore reserve will be used in the definitive feasibility study (DFS) that is currently underway.

Copper miner Golden Deeps (ASX:GED) has announced its raised ~$7.2 million in an over-subscribed capital raise.

The company issued more ~380 million fully paid ordinary shares at 1.9 cents with a free attaching option exercisable at 1.5 cents for every two shares issued.

Golden Deeps CEO Jon Dugdale said the company would now rapidly advance testwork and development studies for its high-grade vanadium, copper-lead zinc projects in Nambia as it looks to develop near term production of key metals products for renewable energy industries globally.

Cleantech company Parkway Corporate (ASX:PWN) which is focused on solving global water challenges has announced a material contract with leading natural gas producer Queensland Gas Company (ASX:QGC).

The contract is based on Parkway performing a range of evaluations and assessing the feasibility of treating waste brine derived from QGC’s coal seam gas water treatment plants using its iBC technology.

Owner of a range of gyms and leisure centres Viva Leisure (ASX:VVA) has announced the death of chairman Bruce Glanville.

Viva Leisure CEO and Managing Director Harry Konstantinou said Glanville had been chairman since 2014 and was a highly respected member of the board, who provided invaluable counsel, stability and commitment to the company.

Cann Group (ASX:CAN) has announced that the Office of Drug Control (ODC) has granted it the necessary permit to manufacture medicinal cannabis products at its Mildura facility in northwestern Victoria.

The permit completes the suite of ODC permits required for the operation of Cann’s Mildura facility. The company said it was continuing to work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration on the GMP licence application for the Mildura site and expects to have it in place in coming months.

 

TRADING HALTS

4DS Memory Limited (ASX:4DS) –  technical update

Virtus Health Limited (ASX: VRT) –  CapVest Partners LLP (CapVest) intends to submit a revised proposal to Virtus but no details of the terms of that revised proposal have been provided at this time

Thomson Resources (ASX:TMZ) –  material capital raise

Adslot Limited (ASX: ADS) – material capital raise

Redbank Copper Limited (ASX: RCP) –  capital raising

Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX: IXR) –  capital raising

Navigator Global Investments Limited (ASX: NGI) –  material acquisition

Rhinomed Limited (ASX:RNO) – material supply agreement and a capital raising