• The benchmark wobbles its way to a -0.4% close
  • Local lithium stocks lag as red-hot prices falter
  • And it’s just the wrong side of quiet around here. Something feels… off.

 

In 1986, San Francisco heavy metal outfit Metallica released Battery, the second track on the A-Side of Master of Puppets.

The song is about… actually, I really don’t know – but It’s an absolute banger, that much is certain.

Lyrically speaking, however,  it’s hard to figure out why James Hetfield felt the need to announce to the world that he was the world’s hairiest Duracell… but he did, by singing:

 

Lashing out the action, returning the reaction

Weak are ripped and torn away

Hypnotizing power, crushing all that cower

Battery is here to stay

 

Sadly, Hetfield was about as prescient as he is understandable, as the gloss continues to come off lithium, and battery metal stocks all over the place and some big names like Sayona (ASX:SYA) and Syrah (ASX:SYR) cop a beating.

But If you’re gonna cop a beating, then there’s really not much of a better beat to get beaten to…

 

 

Side note: If you, like me, have neighbours who purchased themselves a karaoke machine for Christmas, only know one song and apparently don’t know how to turn the wretched machine’s volume to anything other than “deafening”, that Metallica track is a great way to let them know just how far music noise travels in your neighbourhood, and that you’re perfectly willing to crank it as loud as you can, slap it on repeat then bugger off to the beach for 6 hours.

 

TO MARKETS

Overall, not a fabulous day’s work from the market, but it was hardly the busiest day of the year as most sane and sensible people were smart enough to get in early with their annual leave requests to make sure they had the three days between Turkey and Fireworks off to relax.

The benchmark finished the day 0.30% lower, after an Energy-driven recovery this afternoon that saw the sector boosted by 1.53%, lightyears ahead of nearest contender Materials (+0.26%) and sector sadsacks Health Care (-1.23%) and Industrials (-1.10%).

By the time the bell rang to end the day, there wasn’t a “proper” Large Cap to be seen in the winner’s circle… However, as mentioned, both Sayona and Syrah were featured on the losing side of the ledger today, down 9.23% and 10.52% respectively.

They were joined by Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), which fell 7.46% over the course of the day as well.

 

NOT THE ASX

Overnight, Wall Street went in every direction at once, With the NASDAQ down 1.38% while the Dow added 0.11% and the S%P slipped 0.4% – but the techies really did take a hammering throughout the course of the session.

Tesla added to its form slump for the month – an 11% drop overnight brings its total fall to around 44% so far for December, while it was a couple of casino stocks in the form of Wynn Resorts (WYNN:NASDAQ) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS:NYSE) that seemed to have grabbed the attention of investors and degenerate gamblers alike.

That being said, a venn diagram of those two slices of humanity would most likely show a shockingly high degree of overlap, so we shouldn’t really be all that surprised.

In Asia, the Nikkei is down 0.58%, and Shanghai has dropped 0.16%. But the surprised feel-good hit of the day has been the Hang Seng, after markets in Hong Kong coughed up a surprise 1.80% lift today that has brought some measure of good cheer to somebody, somewhere.

If that’s you, send us a postcard from somewhere fancy. Somewhere like… Thailand! We hear it’s rather lovely and almost completely devoid of Small Caps news there, this time of year.

 

FROM THE HEADLINES

RIP Comrade Sausage Man

Looking elsewhere in the headlines quickly, and it’s still a bad time to be a rich Russian dude with enough gumption to say not-super-nice things about the Russian president at the moment.

Reports out of India say that Moscow’s answer to Abe “The Sausage King of Chicago” Froman has done himself a bit of a mischief, after Russian sausage magnate Pavel Antov “mysteriously fell” from the third floor of the hotel he was staying in during celebrations for his 65th birthday.

Antov’s death came just days after his friend Vladimir Budanov died at the same hotel, apparently of a heart attack brought on by drinking too much, which doesn’t sound very Russian, but there you go.

Anyhow – Antov’s death is now the latest on a long list of high profile Russian rich dudes who have been critical of Putin (or the war i Ukraine in general) who have died in mysterious circumstances.

CNN says that the list is now 12 names long. Last week, it was submarine builder Alexander Buzakov, who died in somewhat murky circumstances. Before that, former rector to the Moscow Aviation Institute Anatoly Gerashchenko “fell from a great height” at the facility, and died.

At least five senior Russian businessmen linked to state-owned gas giant Gazprom have fallen off tall things, or died in alleged suicides since the company publicly spoke out against the conflict in Ukraine.

Make of all that what you will, but 2-3 strange deaths are easily explained as unhappy coincidence, while 12 is a number that is starting to teeter on the edge of believability that it’s just a statistical blip.

 

Twitter got hacked, apparently, but no one seems too bothered.

And lastly, our colleagues over at news.com.au have reported that Twitter’s been hacked, and former PM Scott Morrison’s account is one of about 400 million accounts that have been compromised, with personal account info up for sale by the hacker(s).

It’s odd to think that even just a few months ago, news that Twitter’s ironclad security had been breached would have broken the internet – but given the state of things over at Elon’s Busted Megaphone Emporium, it’s verging on “who really gives a toss” territory.

The good news for Morrison, however, is that the hacker is yet to uncover the half-dozen other Twitter accounts the former PM secretly set up for himself while still in office.

Allegedly. All of it, totally allegedly.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LEADERS

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Energy Transition Minerals (ASX:ETM) has finished the day 25.4% higher on no news – but the announcement from last week that it’s put in an amended application for its exploitation licence for the Kvanefjeld rare earth element Project in Greenland seems to have been warmly embraced by punters.

The amended licence, if approved, would be basically the same as ETM’s previous “We wanna take all of whatever we can find” application, except under the new application, the company would instead be treating ayn uranium it finds as an impurity, which will be “safely removed and stored as tailings”.

Which, you have to admit, sounds more than a little bit like the Greenland government regulators looked over the application and possibly suggested they were cool with it, except for the whole but about the uranium leaving the country.

This morning’s leader, copper player Austral Resources (ASX:AR1), finished the day 13.9% higher.

Austral says that it’s secured funding as it hits steady state production at the Mt Kelly plant, and continues to fast track the Company’s Lady Colleen Scoping study.

The funding i coming through a 1-2 combo of initiatives, the first of which will see global mining services provider Thiess on board with a restructured debt payment scheme, easing the pressure on Austral while Thiess continues to work at Austral’s Anthill Mine.

AR1 has also managed to twist the arm of 2.9% stakeholder, the Harvey Family Office, for a $12.77 million debt facility to keep things cranking along, as Austral ramps up production to 1,000 tonne per month at approximately A$12,000 per tonne (spot price of US$3.78lb on 20 December 2022) generating cashflow of approximately A$12 million per month.

The Harvey Family Office has set an interest rate on the debt facility at near credit-card level of 15%pa, with a 12-month term limit. #NiceLittleEarner.

But other than that, it’s been a bit of a slow day all round – a number of the Penny Racers have enjoyed modest gains, but with big climbs on whisper-tin volume seemingly the order of the day, I’m at the point with it that I reckon we just slap a “too weird to worry about just now” sticker on most of the rest of them and take a look with fresh eyes in the morning.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LAGGARDS

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LAST ORDERS

First up it’s a burst of sky-high good news for Netlinkz Limited (ASX:NET), after it announced to the ASX that its global reseller agreement with Space Exploration Technology Corp (SpaceX) is proving to be fruitful.

Netlinkz says that in just one month, it has already received enquiries from Australian and foreign governments, multi-national business, local and overseas telecommunication businesses, and rural and remote businesses and communities for more than 30,000 VSN Starlink units.

That number’s hardly surprising considering that the satellite based service offers arguably better service than many NBN providers, and can ring high speed, low-latency internet access to even the most remote locations.

The company is able to offer Starlink outside of Australia as well, thanks to its existing distribution network covering Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Qatar, Singapore, Japan, Pacific Islands, Africa, and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, fintech company Novatti Group (ASX:NOV) has announced that director Abigail Cheadle has resigned from the board of directors to focus on her other business interests.

Cheadle was appointed to the position on 13 December 2021, and had brought more than three decades of high level management and accounting experience to the table.

And let’s see… it really was a very slow day in the announcements department this afternoon… Oh, here’s something.

Casino operator Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) that Christina Katsibouba has been appointed to the position of Chief Financial Officer on a permanent basis effective from 1 January 2023.

Katsibouba was appointed to the position on an interim basis on 9 May 2022, having held the position of Group Executive Gaming prior to that, and prior to The Troubles that have had SGR on the back foot in NSW, Queensland and Victoria over the past few months, which have resulted in tens of millions of dollars worth of fines and a raft of remedial measures being imposed over how the company has been running things over the past few years.

 

TRADING HALTS

DC Two Limited (ASX:DC2) – DC2 has asked for a two-day halt in the lead up to announcing a share purchase agreement this coming Friday.