Closing Bell: Lithium leads XEC ambush of XJO, iron ore majors flee
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The ASX Emerging Companies (XEC) index was climbing at 4pm (Sydney time) up 1.8% and outpacing the S&P/ASX 200 index (XJO), weighed down as it is by a few of those unwieldy iron ore giants after China’s favourite rock fell 9% ‘cos Chinese regulators raised transaction fees and generally complained the price back down to circa $135.
Like some dream from a red echo-chamber, data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics released this arvo shows just how perfectly China’s factory-gate inflation has eased in January in contrast to what’s happening in the States.
The CBA’s China economist Kevin Xie – a lovely team man who put his hand up and moved to Hong Kong about 5 minutes before it became Hong Jing – says China’s headline consumer inflation eased in January thanks largely to falling food prices.
CPI remains nice and weak and China’s producer price inflation (PPI) eased to 9.1% year on year, which is pretty good compared to say, I dunno, the US.
Kevin says China’s PPI could even slow further.
And meanwhile stateside the same measurement released just a little bit earlier, spiked by the most it has in more than eight months as US producer prices just keep on accelerating across the midwest.
“We expect continued monetary easing in China in contrast to imminent monetary tightening in the US,” Xie said this afternoon with no discernable hint of irony.
The latest PPI read has the muggles at the US Federal Reserve tightening their cold fingers around monetary policy like a noose.
The talk is of a 50bps move for March.
But a betting person might put a fist full of dollars on a panic raise before then.
(Stocks highlighted in yellow rose after making announcements during the trading day).
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Valor Resources (ASX:VAL) has met its commitments under the farm in agreement over the ‘Hook Lake’ uranium project, 60km east of the Key Lake uranium mine in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
VAL can earn 80% of the project by meeting exploration expenditure milestones.
The first-year commitment has now been exceeded, VAL says, so the extra cash spent will be rolled over into year two commitments.
A 2,500m maiden drilling program is currently underway, with additional field-based work and an airborne gravity survey planned to commence in April 2022, exec chairman George Bauk says.
The $48m market cap stock is up 20% year-to-date.
AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ) says its expediting the $US240m cornerstone CATH tech investment in its monster lithium ‘Manono’ project.
CATH will shell out the cash for a 24% direct interest, plus another ~$160m to get the ~$US540m project into development.
AVZ now expects the deal to be finalised in March.
“Finalising our agreement with CATH provides certainty of funding to progress development of the Manono Project, pending the award of our Mining Licence and Collaboration Development Agreement from the DRC Government,” AVZ’s MD Nigel Ferguson says.
According to the Ferguson Manono is the biggest undeveloped deposit in the world with the second highest grade, its in the bottom cost quartile for production globally, and the bottom quartile for greenhouse gas emissions.
As Ferguson says it’s looking – “very, very profitable”.
The stock is up almost 2,000% since May 2019.
Near-term lithium miner Liontown (ASX:LTR) has entered a supply deal with Elon Musk’s Tesla.
This stock was worth 2c per share back in April 2019. It has since gained an incredible 7,900%.
At 6000m and still growing, Great Boulder Resources (ASX:GBR) MD Andrew Paterson told Stockhead it’s irrepressible Mulga Bill just proved itself to be a ‘major project.’ That’s after further extended its gold system to 6km of strike at its Side Well gold project in WA.
“This all demonstrates Mulga Bill is now a major project with a simply massive mineralised system.”
“This is 5km from the zone where we first started intersecting ounce-grade gold veins, and the high grades are still there,” he said. GBR shares are up over 11%.
Cyber security firm WhiteHawk (ASX:WHK) is up 20% to 12 cents today on no news, but a cool sounding cyber security name.
However, the company did recently tell the ASX of a new, “cyber risk radar contract with a global social media company for $1.5M.”
Mysteriously, it said the new client is a Fortune 100 US-based global social media company.
(Stocks highlighted in yellow fell after making announcements during the trading day).
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In a cracking ASX announcement this morning Tassie distiller Lark Distilling (ASX:LRK), bravely praised outgoing MD Geoff Bainbridge who stepped down this morning to deal with a “personal matter,” which does appear to have gone a wee bit public.
The reason Lark has crashed in Wednesday trade isn’t just because the Grill’d burger chain co-founder tendered his resignation over a “personal matter,” but may also be in regard to:
a) A fairly viral video published earlier today of a shirtless Bainbridge smoking what looks a lot like a meth pipe. And;
b) The circa six years of blackmail which have reportedly preceded the video.
c) And the appointment of former Bellamy’s Australia boss Laura McBain who looks to have taken up the poisoned pipe as interim managing director.
Down some 20%, Lark won’t be doing media interviews today. And that’s fair.
It’s been a day to complete mergers and acquisitions. Investment and superannuation platform services provider Hub24 (ASX:HUB) has completed its acquisition of Class Limited, which provides cloud-based self-managed superannuation fund administration software solutions.
Hub24 today issued 11.4 million ordinary shares and paid $15.7 million in cash to holders of Class shares at February 9, the record date for the scheme. The merger brings together two significant players in the field.
Chair Diane Smith-Gander said the merger would create a world class mineral driller with a strong balance of surface and underground drilling exposures, more than 1600 employees and a combined fleet of 176 rigs.
Melbana Energy (ASX:MAY) has been granted a petroleum exploration permit in the territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands for an initial period of six years.
Melbana made an application for the permit under the Australian Government’s 2020 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release. The permit contains the undeveloped Vesta-1 oil discovery drilled in 2005. The Vesta-2 appraisal well drilled in 2007 identified a gas cap.
And finally, Jupiters Mines has announced the appointment of former Gold Road Resources CEO and chairman Ian Murray as a non-executive director and Chair from May 1, 2022.
Murray is currently executive chair of Matador Mining, where he is transitioning to a non-executive chair role.
Speaking of, Matador Mining (ASX:MZZ) could have heaps more gold at its Cape Ray project after the digger doubled the strike zone of its highly prospective Window Glass Hill Granite intrusion to over 6km.
With just 15% of the new 6km length of the WGHG drill tested to date and most drilling limited to less than 120m below surface, there is plenty of room for the company to make significant discoveries along strike and at depth.
Blue Star Helium (ASX:BNL) has spudded its long-awaited Enterprise 16#1 helium exploration well that seeks to unlock new sources of the increasingly rare and highly valuable commodity.
Helium is in high-demand for its irreplaceable use in a growing number of high-tech applications from manufacturing MRI machines to nuclear medicine and space exploration.
And there’s not much of it – although seeking to address this imbalance with its helium drilling program in Colorado, which kicked off this week with its maiden well targeting a helium pay zone in the Lyons formation.
Eagle Mountain Mining (ASX:EM2) CEO Tim Mason says the Aussie digger is heading underground, bringing forward plans to explore the hidden secrets at its giant Oracle Ridge Copper Project in Arizona, where some 20 kilometres of underground development is waiting, with more than 90% of the existing mine accessible.
Mason says drilling from underground not only saves time and money, it improves access for studies – with shorter drill holes expected to reduce hole length by around 40%-60% compared to surface drilling.
And elsewhere Azure Minerals (ASX:AZS) just keeps growing its portfolio after staking two new exploration licence applications (ELA) alongside the application for an additional two licences to the south of the Barton Gold project.
Azure’s immense land package now spans across 88km of strike length over the main Kookynie geological trend, which hosts under-explored mineralised trends covering greenstone belts, adjacent granite margins and favourable structural settings.
Global Lithium Resources (ASX:GL1) – Maiden resource for Manna lithium project
Ragnar Metals (ASX:RAG) — Update on Swedish exploration program