ASX set to rise as Wall Street climbs again

Local markets look set to open higher in the wake of another strong session on Wall Street overnight, as the February tech rebound continues.

The S&P500 rose by 1.46% while the Nasdaq posted a 2.08% gain.

Since hitting a recent low on February 27, the Nasdaq has now risen by 8.5% after company earnings season kicked off in February.

With US earnings season now about two-thirds of the way through, US travel stocks had another good session as markets adjust to the Omicron outlook.

Across the major commodities, oil and gold prices largely held steady.

Crypto markets have stabilised and Bitcoin is on the march back to US$45,000 — a gain of around 35% from its recent lows following a sharp January selloff.

ASX looking up

Local markets are looking up ahead of the opening bell on Thursday, with ASX SPI futures (March contracts) trading 0.57% higher.

Yesterday, the ASX microcap Emerging Companies index made it eight wins from the past nine sessions following a sharp fall in January.

It was a positive session at the big end of town as well, as large cap companies in tech and banking — two sectors that have lagged while commodities led the market in January — led the pack.

In large cap news this morning, NAB (ASX:NAB) reported its Q1 trading update for its financial year ended September 30, with preliminary net profits of $1.8bn.

Like all the other big banks, NAB reported a contraction in its net interest margin — a key metric for banking performance — stemming partly from increased competition in the sector.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Nuix (ASX:NXL)
The embattled software developer released an update on the ASIC investigation into its financial statements between 2018 and 2020, in connection with NXL’s November 2020 IPO. ASIC “has determined that it will not take any further action in relation to those matters”, Nuix said. However, “the aspect of ASIC’s investigation relating to Nuix’s market disclosure in the period since listing is not yet complete”.

SRG Global (ASX:SRG)
The engineering services firm announced that it’s scored a mining services contract valued around $150m with OneSteel Manufacturing Pty Ltd (SIMEC Mining). The five-year deal will commence immediately and includes “the provision of specialist drill and blast services across multiple mine locations at SIMEC’s iron ore operations in South Australia”, SRG said.

Infinity Lithium (ASX:INF)
The company provided an update on its San Jose lithium project in Spain, after announcing that test work in Germany had confirmed the project’s capacity for “scaled-up production of battery grade lithium carbonate & hydroxide” as part of the company’s Feasibility Study.

Medallion Metals (ASX:MM8)
The gold explorer provided a drilling update at its Meridian prospect in WA, where the first diamond drill hole intersected 4.6m of mineralisation following the deployment of its DHEM predictive targeting tool. “For the first hole to generate an intersection containing significant massive sulphides validates DHEM as an effective targeting tool at Meridian which greatly enhances our confidence and ability to be predictive”, MD Paul Bennett said.

The company announced results from the first three trenches at its Kokoseb gold prospect — part of WIA’s Okombahe exploration permit within its Damaran Project in Namibia. WIA said the first three assay results confirmed in situ gold mineralisation at the site, while additional soil results “have extended the gold anomaly towards the south and towards the east – where it remains open”.