• A quiet day of sinking slowly into the mire sees the benchmark down 0.94%
  • It’d be easy to blame it all on the Energy sector, so that’s precisely what we’ve done
  • If you’re hoping for a bounce tomorrow, steel yourself for disappointment

 

The countdown to the end of 2022 is on in earnest. Nowhere has the joy been sucked out of that endeavour more than right here on the ASX, which seems to be going all out just to land a few last minute licks before the bell rings.

There’s no way to sugar coat it – it’s just dismal. More of a disappointment than a shock, though, as this week was always going to be a bit of a non-starter, wedged in between Christmas Lunch and the inevitable New Years Day hangovers that Aussies are primed for from birth.

I’m going to try and keep this one brief, as there’s quite a bit of wrapping up to be done in time to remind you tomorrow that it’s time to look back on the year that just happened, and wonder why on earth it is that we do this to ourselves.

Sector-wise, an outright bed-wetting from Energy (-3.74%) through to the Telcos (-0.50%) is to blame for the benchmark’s pathetic waddling back to the pavilion this afternoon.

Whitehaven (ASX:WHC) is the millstone around the energy sector’s neck today, sinking 4.82% and extending its end-of-year dive past 12% over the past two sessions, and Woodside (ASX:WDS) is down 4.35% and it’s around about there that I stopped reading because it’s making me sad.

Elsewhere, it was renewed recession fears in 2023 that put upward pressure on bond yields, which knocked all the wind out of the Real Estate sector’s sails this session, with bricks and things down more than 1.3%.

Overall, today’s poor showing has left Aussie shares at their lowest level since mid-November, and market sentiment is unlikely to un-sour itself between now and the last trading session for the year.

The number of outright morbid factors looming already for 2023 have a number of investors quietly shuffling the deck chairs into something of a more defensive position, bracing for the year ahead.

That said, I’m surely not alone in my fervent desire for this year to be entered into the anals of history.

… I know what I said.

 

NOT THE ASX

Looking overseas, Japan’s slowly sliding into the sea as well, with the Nikkei down 1.26% – indicative of volatility that the BoJ’s monetary policy shift is likely to deliver as it struggles with the prospect of a preposterous number 2,000 year old demons who all look disturbingly like questionably young girls, that are set to bring generations of darkness to Japan, and certain gross corners of the internet.

Hong Kong’s sagging too – down 0.99%, and Shanghai is moving in the same direction, albeit a little slower as it always seems to do, dipping 0.31% over the course of the day.

In the US overnight, there was nought but grim news to be found as well.

Wall Street fell last heavily last night, leaving the NASDAQ down 1.35%, the Dow Jones 1.10% lower and the S&P nestled in between them on -1.2%.

Tesla bounced like a battery-powered dead cat, adding about 3 cheerless percent, barely making a dent in the catastrophic losses it’s seen over the past 12 months.

Maybe Tesla should have invested a bit more R&S time into the whole ‘self driving’ thing, seeing as how its CEO has… yeah, you know the rest of the joke already.

The best performer in the US overnight was energy tech solutions group Generac, which added 5.6% as the United States emerges from a desperately chilly Christmas time deep freeze that saw temperatures plummet to almost unbelievable lows – and Americans crying out for a more reliable way to keep the lights on from coast to coast.

In crypto, overall market sentiment appears to have risen over the course of the day – the majors are performing slightly better than they were this morning, but Solana is still bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig, down 9.9% for the day and trading well under US$10 a pop.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LEADERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Wordpress Table Plugin

Things really haven’t changed all that much since lunch time among the Small Caps, other than the percentages, which I have painstakingly spent 3-4 long minutes of extremely hard work updating. Because I care.

The Big Winner of the day is still Strategic Elements (ASX:SOR), after the tech company told the world that it’s had a major win in its development of “a revolutionary new power source that generates electrical energy from moisture in the air”.

SOR put its “extremely thin, flexible, environmentally friendly Energy Ink battery” up against the baseline power that is consumed by a leading glucose-monitoring skin patch, which many diabetics wear to keep track of their blood sugar levels, instead of sticking needles in their fingers up to 4 times a day.

The company says that its Energy Ink battery put out more than 200% of the required energy to keep that skin patch ticking over – and it’s hard to overstate what a profoundly massive market SOR’s tech could be about to significantly bite into once it’s ready to start producing its batteries at commercial scale.

Investors like magic things that are both sexy and enviro-friendly – and the idea of getting into a US$10 billion market with something that isn’t a horrible planet-breaker is both of those things. SOR is trading 48.8% higher today as a result. Bravo!

Also up today is Stellar Resources (ASX:SRZ), possibly because Barry “Steely Gaze” FitzGerald popped it on his BBQ Stopper list this morning, which he did because he reckons it’s been flying under the radar for a while now, despite sitting on the world’s third-largest highest grade undeveloped tin project, down in Tasmania. SRZ is trading 18.1% higher.

And Codrus Minerals (ASX:CDR) is banging around the place again this morning, up 17.3% on reasonable volume while the market continues to try to digest its high-grade niobium-rich REE find at its recently-secured Karloning Rare Earth Element (REE) Project, located in WA’s Wheatbelt, 260km north-east of Perth.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LAGGARDS

Here are the least best performing ASX small cap stocks:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Wordpress Table Plugin

 

LAST ORDERS

It’s been super-quiet on the market today, so there’s really not all that much to talk about that we haven’t already covered elsewhere.

Babylon Pump and Power (ASX:BPP) has announced that it’s all set to acquire 100% of RHB Engineering, a rental pumps and specialist mechanical services provider in the water management field – critical stuff for mining operations in Southwest and other areas of Western Australia.

The deal will see BPP drop a total of $3.0 million; $1.8 on completion and $1.2 million deferred, and the whole thing should be wrapped up, signed, sealed and delivered by the end of January 2023.

Next up – and I cannot stress this enough – I don’t want to sound like I’m gossiping or throwing stones, but there is some semi-frantic postcard swapping with the ASX worth making some notes about.

In particular, there’s been a not-inconsiderable amount of back and forth between the ASX and BPH Energy (ASX:BPH), with the ASX demanding to know ‘who told what to whom’ and why a bunch of stuff appeared in another newspaper and another online, forum-based property as well.

From the correspondence, it looks like the ASX has taken some umbrage over an article about BPH’s position in the wake of former PM Scott Morrison’s bizarre decision to secretly appoint himself King of the Known Universe and nix BPH’s plans to sell large volumes of gas.

Per the ASX, the inclusion of information such as “PEP-11 is reported to contain prospective resources up to 5.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, potentially similar in size to the Bass Strait, and enough to supply the East Coast with approx. 20 years of gas” constitutes the public reporting of a prospective resources (aka, a Resource Statement) for the purposes of Listing Rules 5.25, 5.28, 5.35 and 5.36.

BPH says “Nope”, because “the reference to this resource is information which is generally available having been the subject of numerous previous announcements by both BPH and other entities since 2010 and which have been given to ASX and released”.

I suspect that this is going to be one of those arguments that trundles on a lot longer than could be considered absolutely necessary, especially given that BPH released its reply to the ASX at 1.40pm this afternoon, and was suspended from trading a scant 3 minutes later.

And rounding out today’s list of ‘Interesting Things that are stopping me from being able to go take a desperately needed nap’, Energy Transition Minerals (ASX:ETM) is also swapping paint with the ASX today, after it got a Please Explain over a jump in volume between 23 December and 28 December that saw its price leap from $0.055 to $0.07.

So, the ASX asked if ETM had been keeping any info up its sleeve, and ETM replied that yes, it had.

“The Company had been in earlier stage preliminary discussions with a TSX listing company regarding providing a loan facility and a potential corporate transaction. The terms of any proposed transaction had not been finalised, were incomplete and the Company has decided to not proceed with any transaction proposed at this stage,” EMT wrote to the ASX.

ETM’s in an interestingly difficult situation in Greenland. Recent legislation meant that mining anything with a uranium content higher than 100 parts per million was off the table, and that included ETM’s Kvanefjeld rare earth element project and its 0.036% (360ppm) uranium oxide content.

So that explains why ETM has gone back to the Greenland government with a proposal to mine the site, but to treat whatever uranium it finds as a waste product to be stored securely as tailings – and the possibility of someone getting wind of a potential loan facility and corporate transaction (which, remember, is not going ahead) might explain why ETM went soaring in the past week.

I feel the need to point out that I made a semi-mostly-ignorant guess at what ETM’s announcement last week was all about – and I kind of missed the mark with it, so it is with much gratitude that I publicly announce that I owe Stockhead’s very own Reuben the Magnificent a beer, for knowing many things and telling me about some of them.

 

TRADING HALTS

There’s one lonely little halt on the list today, and it barely even counts.

Besra Gold (ASX:BEZ) called a halt at 9:48am pending the release of an announcement by the Company regarding an extension to the timetable to issue securities in the recently closed Entitlement Offer.

That announcement popped up at 11:28am, leaving the list of today’s trading halts otherwise empty.

Told ya things have been a bit slow…