Wall Street falls on Omicron concerns

All three major benchmarks finished lower overnight, on concerns the new variant may pose a real threat.

The WHO warned the Omicron variant is spreading at an unprecedented rate and may already be present in most countries.

Moderna chief doctor Dr Paul Burton also warned against believing claims the new variant causes a milder disease.

Investors were also nervous about the outcome of the US Fed meeting, which got underway overnight.

The central bank convened its final meeting of the year, with experts predicting a tapering of bond purchases by March and a hike rate by June next year. A formal announcement will be made on Wednesday US time.

The S&P 500 finished lower by 0.75%, the Dow Jones by 0.30%, and tech heavy Nasdaq by 1.14%.

Most tech stocks were dumped, with giants like Microsoft (-3.4%), Alphabet (-1.5%) all succumbing to sentiment.

In other markets, Brent crude and spot iron ore prices also fell 2%, but Bitcoin rallied 4% and is trading at US$48,300 at 8.30am AEDT.

Time Magazine Person of the Year, Elon Musk, has posted another tweet about his favourite crypto Dogecoin (DOGE). And yep, it’s shot up in price once more.

Read the rest of that story here on Stockhead.


ASX 200 to open lower on Wednesday

The ASX 200 looks set to fall at the open this morning, with futures markets (December contracts) pointing down by 0.39% at 8:30am AEDT.

Yesterday, the local index traded downwards, ultimately closing a whisker lower than Monday – at 7,378 points.

Quantum Graphite (ASX:QGL), which has the ‘Uley’ graphite prokect in South Australia, more than tripled after being reinstated.

In large caps news this morning, healthcare giant CSL (ASX:CSL) announced the acquisition of Swiss’ Vifor Pharma in an all-cash offer of US$179.25 a share, or US$11.7bn. The acquisition will be funded by new placements, debt, and existing cash.

Asset manager Challenger Ltd (ASX:CGF) announced a new CEO this morning, Nick Hamilton.

On the IPO front, set to list at 12:30pm AEDT today is base metals explorer Armada Metals (ASX:AMM).

The company holds two exploration licences prospective for magmatic nickel-copper sulphide, covering a total area of 2,991sqkm in Gabon, Africa.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

SRG Global (ASX:SRG)
The engineering firm says it has secured a structures contract in the defence sector worth $30m. The contract is with Lendlease to provide structures works at both the Navy Training System Centre at HMAS Stirling, and the Capability Centre at Henderson in WA.

Droneshield (ASX:DRO)
The company has been granted an exemption permit to carry out advanced testing of its counter-drone technology in Australia. The exemption is the first of its kind, and was issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a regulator of the communications spectrum nationally.

Altura Mining (ASX:AJM)
A technical review has been completed on the Fish Lake Valley Lithium Project in Nevada, and lithium mineralisation was confirmed. The Nevada region is highly prospective for lithium, and has seen rapid growth in lithium exploration recently.

Genmin (ASX:GEN)
The junior iron ore explorer has signed two offtake MoU’s with Chinese parties for the supply of 4Mtpa of iron ore over the next three years from its Baniaka project in Gabon.

Capricorn Metals (ASX:CMM)
The explorer announced that all key mining tenure at its wholly owned Mt Gibson Gold Project has been granted. Granted tenure now consists of 24 exploration and prospecting licences covering 213 square kilometres, with 2.08 million ounce resource and current exploration targets all sitting on the granted tenure.