Wall Street mixed as ‘debt ceiling’ deadline approaches

US stock markets finished in mixed territories on Thursday, as a last session selloff turned the Nasdaq from positive to negative at the close.

The Dow Jones rose by 0.26%, the S&P 500 by 0.16%%, and tech heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.24%.

The market closely watched attempts by US Congress to beat the 12:01am Friday (US time) deadline for raising the ‘debt ceiling’, in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Meanwhile, in a video conference with other central bankers, US Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said elevated inflation around the world was a result of supply chain disruptions, which would prove temporary.

“It’s very difficult to say how big the effects will be in the meantime, or how long they will last, but we do expect that we’ll get back, we’ll get through that,” Powell said.

US treasury yields eased on the comments, with the benchmark 10-year yield falling 2 basis points to 1.52%.

In other markets, spot iron ore is up 2% to US$114.80/t, while oil prices fell by around 0.6%.

To cryptos, where Bitcoin has fallen further to US$41,200 at 8:00am AEST this morning, from US$41,700 yesterday.

Alibaba says it has stopped selling Bitcoin mining machines, in light of the recent Chinese government crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

Elon Musk told the Code 2021 conference in Beverly Hills that the US government shouldn’t even try to regulate the cryptocurrency market.

Read all about that story here.

ASX 200 to open higher on Thursday

The ASX 200 looks set to open higher his morning, with futures markets (December contracts) pointing up by 0.32% at 8:30am AEST.

Yesterday, the Aussie benchmark threatened to tank early, but gained back some ground in afternoon trade to finish 1.08% lower.

Even the ASX 200 Energy index cooled off after a barnstorming 15% gain over the past week, with a 1.81% slide.

On the IPO front, set to list at 11:30am AEST today is gold/base metals explorer Mitre Mining (ASX:MMC), after raising $5m from investors at 20c per share.

Forrestania Resources Limited (FRS) is also scheduled to list at 1:00pm EST.

Economics data to be released in Australia today include the final budget outcome for 2020/21, job vacancies, and housing credit.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Impedimed (ASX:IPD)
The medtech company has signed a deal with Icon Group to roll out 13 SOZO units to establish lymphoedema screening services for breast cancer patients across Australia and New Zealand. Icon Group is Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider, with 31 cancer centres in the country.

Integral Diagnostics (ASX:IDX)
The company will acquire The X-Ray Group for an upfront purchase consideration of $37.5m on a cash and debt free basis. IDX says The X-Ray Group is complementary to its existing regional footprint, and is expected to provide IDX with potential operational synergies.

Gentrack Group (ASX:GTK)
The energy and utilities software company upgraded its full year earnings guidance to $NZ105 million. The hike was on the back of revenue in second half of FY21, which has been stronger than expected.

Challenger Exploration (ASX:CEL)
The company says deeper drilling at Verde Zone confirms high grade and a discovery of scale at its flagship Hualilan Gold Project in Argentina. Assay results include: 49.0m at 2.4 g/t AuEq.

Firefinch (ASX:FFX)
The company announced that the Mali government has approved the joint venture between FFX and Ganfeng Lithium to develop and operate the Goulamina Lithium Project in Mali. Ganfeng will provide the first US$39 million cash investment for the Goulamina project, with the remaining US$91 million to be received following the Final Investment Decision (FID).