• The ASX is set to open sharply lower on Friday after a strong jobs report in the US
  • Meta’s new app Threads has 30 million downloads 18 hours after launch
  • Growth in electric vehicles sales has begun to slow in the US


Aussie shares are set to track US stocks sharply lower at Friday’s open. At 8am AEST, the ASX 200 index futures was pointing down by -1.2%.

Overnight, Wall Street sank as jobs data stoked more rate hike fears. The S&P 500 index closed -0.79% lower and Nasdaq fell -0.82%.

This comes as the US ADP labour report showed that the private sector added 497,000 jobs in June, far exceeding economists’ estimates for 228,000 jobs.

Economic activity in the US services sector also expanded in June for the sixth consecutive month as the Services PMI registered 53.9%, a 3.6% higher reading than May’s.

“The data-dependent Fed will look at the labor market and that should support the case for much more tightening,” said Oanda analyst, Edward Moya.

To stock news, Meta Platforms was down -0.8% despite launching its Twitter competitor, Threads, onto app stores in 100 countries several hours ahead of its original plans.

Latest figures show that the app has racked up more than 30 million downloads within about 18 hours of the launch.

Exxon Mobil fell 3.7% after Q2 operating profits fell sharply on lower natural gas prices, as well as softer oil refining margins.

JetBlue Airways fell -7% after the company said it would end its partnership in the northeastern US with American Airlines and focus on Spirit Airlines instead.


EV sales growth declining in the US

Meanwhile, the growth in electric vehicles (EV) sales has begun to slow in the US, according to data from Motor Intelligence as reported by Bloomberg.

In the first half of 2023, sales of EVs grew by 50%. While still a big gain, it’s much lower than the 65% and 71% recorded for the first halves of 2022 and 2021 respectively.

Automakers have poured in hundreds of billions dollars to build EV assembly lines, but most analysts are sceptical whether demand could catch up.

“We think EV production ramp-up issues are likely to be widespread among traditional automakers as they attempt to execute aggressive growth plans,” said Garrett Nelson, a senior analyst for CFRA.


In other markets …

Crude oil prices were flattish overnight, with WTI trading at US$71.81 a barrel.

Gold price dropped another -0.3%, trading now at US$1,911.07.

According investment firm Goehring & Rozencwajg (G&R), gold has entered into a new bull phase and is on its way to US$12,000-15,000 an ounce.

G&R believes the rally in gold will revolve around central banks’ behaviour, pointing to geopolitics as a contributing factor to the central bank purchases.

“Russia, for prime example, can use gold to replace the dollar when making transactions with other countries to circumvent Western trade sanctions,” said G&R.

Bitcoin meanwhile dropped -0.85% in the last 24 hours to US$30,203.

Crypto expert Gareth Soloway believes that Bitcoin ETFs, like one about to be launched by BlackRock, are not a game changer.

Soloway notes that there are already various ETFs available for other assets, such as gold ETFs, Bitcoin futures ETFs, and that emotions drive 99% of the cryptocurrency market.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Ecofibre (ASX:EOF)
Ecofibre has launched EOF-BIO, an entity established to commercialise patents for the treatment of endometriosis and ovarian cancer. EOF-BIO will commercialise intellectual property co-developed by Ecofibre and the University of Newcastle. Royalties will be payable by EOF-BIO to Ecofibre and the University of Newcastle for any future sub-licences and developed products.

Sky Network Television (ASX:SKY)
Sky and Warner Bros Discovery announced an extension of their long-established relationship with a muti-year content and platform agreement, securing Sky as the home of HBO, Max Originals, Warner Bros and Discovery for New Zealand audiences.

Golden Deeps (ASX:GED)
High-value germanium and gallium have been identified from surface at the high-grade Nosib Vanadium-Copper-Lead-Silver Deposit. New drilling is set to commence targeting shallow extensions of Nosib and a major geophysical target west of the high-grade Khusib Springs Cu-Ag mine.

Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS)
Aeris has provided an update on its FY23 production guidance. Tritton met its revised FY23 copper production guidance with 17,205t. Cracow FY23 gold production of 48,220oz has met guidance. Mining activities at Mt Colin for Q4 were in line with plan, but production at Jaguar during Q4 has been below plan. As a result of the operational factors outlined for Mt Colin and Jaguar, Aeris is withdrawing its EBITDA guidance for FY23.

Beforepay (ASX:B4P)
Beforepay has achieved $1 billion of pay advances and 1 million user milestones, and was named Ethical Lender of the Year in the global Pan Finance Awards. Strong growth continues with cumulative pay advances of $628 million in FY23, up 92% on FY22.