• Aussie shares to extend gains on Monday after a rally in New York
  • EU inflation continues to be at record high
  • Oil prices spiked 7pc as OPEC+ announced cuts


Aussie shares are set to open higher again on Monday, tracking stocks in New York. At 8am AEST, the April futures contract was pointing up by 0.65%.

Wall Street was in buying mode on the last day of the quarter after a raft of positive data releases. The S&P 500 closed Friday 1.44% higher, the Dow up 1.26%, and the Nasdaq by 1.74%.

Shares were bolstered after an inflation gauge the Fed Reserve follows closely rose slightly less than anticipated in February.

The personal consumption expenditures price index (casually known as the PCE deflator), increased 0.3% for the month which is below the 0.4% consensus, and lower than the 0.5% in January.

In other data from the report, US personal income rose 0.3%, while consumer spending climbed 0.2%.

Following the recent rally, analysts at Citi team have upgraded US stocks to ‘overweight’ from ‘underweight’ on Friday, citing that they “perform more defensively than other markets”.

EU inflation still at record high

Over the Atlantic, Eurozone headline inflation fell considerably again in March – dropping from 8.5% to 6.9%, but core inflation remains at record high of 5.7%.

“Markets are pricing a 25 basis point hike in the EU as a near-certainty, and we could see expectations for 50bp creep higher between now and then if the data doesn’t improve,” said Oanda analyst, Craig Erlam.

In the UK, GDP data shows that not only the UK is NOT in a recession, it even managed to eke out a tiny amount of growth in the fourth quarter.

Oil spiked 7pc

Oil prices spiked a massive 7% on Friday, with Brent closing at US$85.45 a barrel, but still remains way off pre-banking mini-crisis levels.

Prices spiked after OPEC+ announced a surprise oil production cut of more than 1 million barrels a day, abandoning the cartel’s previous assurances that supply would be held steady.

Saudi Arabia led the cartel by pledging its own 500,000 barrel-a-day supply reduction, saying that the voluntary cut was a pre-emptive step in case of any possible demand reduction.

In other markets …

Bitcoin slipped 2% in the last 24 hours to US$27,975, but the price of BTC has surged by over 70% in the first three months of the year.

It was the best quarter since the three months ended March 2021, easily outpacing even Nasdaq’s bull run of 20% gain in the quarter.

“It’s impossible to ignore cryptos at the moment given how they’ve traded throughout the banking mini-crisis,” said Erlam.

“As for where next, it’s anyone’s guess. Recent moves may not make sense to a lot of people, and most explanations may be nonsense but you can never ignore the power of a crypto rally.”

Gold and iron ore prices were flattish, trading at US$1,963.68 and US$125.20 respectively.

Meanwhile, the RBA will hold its crucial meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to decide on rates.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Memphasys (ASX:MEM)
The reproductive biotech announced its first commercial sale of 30 sterile single-use Felix cartridges and console to the prestigious Kobe ART clinic in Japan. The Felix System is a patented, automated single-use cartridge that gently separates high-quality sperm from a semen sample in six minutes for use in human IVF procedures. The clinic made the order based on the strong endorsement of Felix in two recently published papers by leading global IVF clinics. MEM also announced that its Indian partner, Coimbatore Women’s Hospital Centre, has reported the first live birth of a healthy baby boy using the Felix System.

iCetana (ASX:ICE)
iCetana’s largest customer, a Middle East shopping mall network, has renewed its software contract for $1.5m over three years as it migrates to Version2. iCetana has also secured a 600 camera expansion order for its AI video analytics solution from a large shopping mall client in Kuwait, valued at US$138k over the first 12 months.

Technology Metals Australia (ASX:TMT)
TMT announced that, together with its wholly owned subsidiary vLYTE, it has entered into a MoU with Delectrik, a fast-growing Indian Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) manufacturer. The MoU covers the supply of vanadium raw material following the Indian Government’s investment of US$4.3 billion towards the country’s energy transition. The MoU also contemplates supporting Delectrik’s VRFB rollout within Australia, demonstrating the significant potential in Australia for VRFB use in a range of applications, from replacing diesel generation at remote mine sites to storing solar energy for EV charging stations.

AVA Risk Group (ASX:AVA)
AVA says its new Aura Ai-X fibre optic sensing technology has been selected to protect a critical European border. The contract is valued at approximately US$1.5 million, and is for the installation of detection software and equipment as well as a five-year commitment to provide software upgrades and support. Aura Ai-X has an embedded deep learning engine that enhances system performance by referencing algorithm upgrades backed by the company’s global data library.

Koonenberry Gold (ASX:KNB)
KNB says 22.5g/t gold assay has been returned from quartz vein outcrop at the Bellagio Prospect. This is the highest-grade gold and rock chip assay to date on the entire Koonenberry Project. The quartz vein is 30m west of historical quartz vein sample with 11.25g/t gold. The veins represent high-grade gold in outcropping quartz veins spanning at least 50m across strike.