ASX to follow Wall Street lower

Local shares are set to open modestly lower, with the ASX 200 April futures pointing down by 0.05% at 8am AEDT.

Overnight, all three major US stock market benchmarks (S&P 500, the Dow Jones and Nasdaq) slumped by around 1.5% each.

It has been the worst quarterly performance in two years for Wall Street, as geopolitical conflict and inflation continue to spook markets.

Overnight, the conflict provided more drama as Russia’s Putin threatened to halt gas supply to Europe unless they’re being paid in roubles.

The US counteracted by announcing a historic release from its strategic oil reserves. President Biden has ordered a massive release of 1 million barrels a day from the country’s reserves for the next six months.

The news led to an immediate selloff in the oil markets, with Brent crude diving by 7% to US$107 a barrel.

Meanwhile, data released overnight shows US inflation rose a sharp 0.6% in February, taking its yearly rise to 6.4%. It’s the highest rate in 40 years, and is expected to provide the Fed with more incentive to hike rates.

To cryptos, where Bitcoin has eased to US$45,750 this morning from the US$47k level yesterday.

And later today, CoreLogic will release Aussie home prices data for March.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Strandline Resources (ASX:STA)
Construction of Strandline’s wholly-owned Coburn mineral sands project in WA is 65% complete, progressing in line with its timetable and capital budget. The company says it remains on track for first production of heavy mineral concentrate later this year.

Pursuit Minerals (ASX:PUR)
Multiple gold and copper targets have been identified from the soil sample assay results at the Calingiri East tenement, Warrior Project. PUR says that a 700mx250m gold anomaly, which is 50x higher than the surrounding background values, were also identified at the Ablett prospect.

INOVIQ and The University of Queensland (UQ) have expanded their collaboration to develop a world-first exosome-based ovarian cancer screening test. INOVIQ has the exclusive option to license the rights to the commercialisation of the final product.

FOS Capital (ASX:FOS)
The LED lighting company has been awarded a contract by the Art Gallery of NSW. Over the coming months, FOS will supply its Zero Framing Projector to the Gallery for a contract value of $520k.

Mt Monger Resources (ASX:MTM)
Reverse circulation (RC) drilling has commenced at the company’s Mt Monger Gold Project in WA. Multiple gold targets have been identified previously, and the current program will involve 2,000 to 2,500 metres of drilling.