Small caps have finished a momentous year on a dismal note.

The Small Ordinaries index of 100 small-cap companies closed Thursday down 22.9 points, or 0.96 per cent, to 3.089.5, as Australian shares fell across the board in late trading.

The ASX200 fell 1.4 per cent and the ASX20 was down 1.6 per cent following surging domestic coronavirus cases ahead of the three-day weekend. Every sector was in the red, with property trusts were down the most, 2.6 per cent.

But taking a longer term view – for the year the Small Ords was up 6.62 per cent, having gained 2.45 per cent in December and 10.2 per cent in November. Since the nadir of the market on March 23, it is up 69.2 per cent.

The ASX.200, in contrast, fell 1.4 per cent on Thursday to finish the year down 1.45 per cent.

The benchmark index gained 1.06 per cent in December and is up 44.9 per cent since March 23.

For those who prefer smaller fish, the Emerging Companies index of nano-cap companies closed Thursday down 0.11 per cent.

For December it was up 2.6 per cent, and gained 154.8 per cent since March 23 to close 2020 up 25.5 per cent.
 

Best shares of 2020

In a brief look at the final numbers for the year:

Netccentric (ASX:NCL) was the best nano-cap performer, gaining 1,460 per cent in 2020.

IOUpay (ASX:IOU) was the top micro-cap company, rising 2,257 per cent.

Among small caps, Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) was 2020’s standout, rising 1,633.3 per cent.

De Grey Mining (ASX:DEG) was the best mid-cap with a nearly twentyfold rise – 1,890.2 per cent, to be precise.

Afterpay (ASX:APT) was the best large-cap company, quadrupling to finish the year at $118. (Yes, you could buy APT shares at a touch under $30 at the start of the year).
 

Announcements

CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM) dipped 1.0 per cent to $24.37 after the construction giant announced it had completed selling off a 50 per cent stake in Thiess, the world’s largest mining services firm. The transaction generates approximately $2.2 billion for CIMIC, the company said.

Vonex (ASX:VN8) fell 2.1 per cent to 23.5c after announcing that it was seeking a partner to commercialise its Oper8tor cross-platform messaging app, but “does not anticipate committing further development capital to the project at this time”. As such, Vonex co-founder and Oper8tor chief executive Angus Parker will step down from the company, effective Wednesday.

The Oper8tor app is currently live in the Google Play store, but the description says it is “in its final testing stages” and has “known issues”. While the description says the team is “constantly working on improving Oper8tor,” the app was last updated on November 5.

Two weeks ago Vonex announced it would acquire Sydney-based Nextel, a provider of telecommunications services to business services, for $1.6 million in VN8 shares.

OreCorp (ASX:ORR) dropped 3.7 per cent to 65.5c after announcing it had acquired four tenements in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields for about $1.86 million in ORR shares. The exploration licenses cover 275 square kilometres of “highly prospective” mining tenure, the company says.

Papyrus Australia (ASX:PPY) gained 14.9 per cent to 5.4c after the banana palm processor announced that demand for fertiliser and peat products produced from its factory in Sohag, Egypt, continued to grow, “with orders for the products far outstripping present output.”

Suvo Strategic Minerals (ASX:SUV) dropped 1.9 per cent to 12.75c after the Western Australia kaolin and silica sand exploration company announced it had settled the acquisition of Imery Australia’s kaolin mining operation for $2 million.

Image Resources NL (ASX:IMA) was flat at 18.5c after the mineral sands miner advised that a project to extend ore reserves at its Boonanarring project would not be completed by the end of December, as previously planned.
 

Trading halts

Monday:

Allegiance Coal (ASX:AHQ) – announcement clarification

Tuesday:

Zeotech (ASX:ZEO) – capital raising
Buddy Technologies (ASX:BUD) – financing update
S2 Resources (ASX:S2R) – exploration results
BPH Energy (ASX:BP) – investment announcement