• The ASX is set to rise on Monday
  • Wall Street finished mixed after a strong jobs report lifted the risk of higher Fed rates
  • OPEC+ decided to keep output steady

The ASX is set to open higher on Monday ahead of the RBA interest rates call tomorrow. At 8am AEDT, the ASX 200 Dec futures contract was pointing up by 0.25%.

On Friday, US stocks pared early losses and finished in mixed territories by around 0.15%. Wall Street had earlier recorded its first back to back monthly gains in November since 2021.

Inflation in the US looks to be easing.

US factory prices, commodity prices and inflation expectations have all begun to slide from their record levels in recent weeks.

The non-farm payroll report released on Friday however showed the US labor market is not cooling quickly at all.

A headline gain of 263,000 jobs was almost above the most optimistic estimate, and the gain on wages was jaw-dropping as average hourly earnings rose twice as fast as forecast.

“This report doesn’t mean the risks of the Fed raising rates to 6% (from the current 4%) are back on the table. It might add another 25bp to the February meeting,” said OANDA analyst Edward Moya.

The Fed will convene for a meeting to decide on rates on December 14-15.

Oil prices are set to gain this week as OPEC+ decided on Sunday to keep production steady amid sliding crude prices.

The move came after the 23-member cartel caused a firestorm in October when it cut output by 2 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile Russia has rejected a proposed US$60/barrel price cap on its oil exports.

“We will not accept this cap. Starting from this year, Europe will live without Russian oil,” said a Kremlin spokesman.

China has accelerated the move towards easing its Covid polices, with business hubs of Shanghai and Hangzhou lifting restrictions after violent protests.

Chinese stocks rallied strongly last week, fuelled by optimism the economy may pick up again.

Gold is steady around US$1,797.35, while Bitcoin lifted 1% in the last 24 hours to US$17,093.

Bitcoin has generally benefited from the improved risk appetite in the broader financial markets last week.

“Over the next several weeks if inflation steadily heads lower and the economy looks like it is doing well, risky assets, which includes Bitcoin, could still rally from here,” said Moya.

Back home, the RBA is set to hand down its last interest rates hike for the year when the board meets tomorrow.

A survey of 40 experts and economists conducted by Finder revealed that 80% tipped another 25bp rate hike, which would take the cash rate to 3.10%.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Splitit Payments (ASX:SPT)
Splitit has extended its partnership with Google to enable Splitit’s Instalments-as-a-Service to be added to the Google Store in additional markets beyond Japan, specifically in the US, Canada and Australia. Google is expected to implement Splitit’s instalments solution beginning in early 2023. Splitit previously signed an agreement in January 2021 to offer instalments for Google Store Japan.

Black Canyon (ASX:BCA)
BCA says its manganese sulphate testwork has achieved greater than 99% purity. Initial leach tests yielded a 91% extraction rate from which high-grade manganese sulphate crystals containing 32.3% Mn were produced, equivalent to greater than 99% manganese sulphate purity. BCA says this purity is suitable for the battery manufacturing industry.

Delta Drone (ASX:DLT)
Delta Drone has signed a contract to deliver drone surveying services with SFTP Mining across two mines in the Ivory Coast. It’s a 1.5-year contract with a Total Contract Value of $341k and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of $227k.

MGC Pharma (ASX:MXC)
MGC Pharma has completed the delivery of its largest order of ArtemiC to US distribution and marketing partner, AMC Holdings, with a value of US$1 million. Delivery has now been completed, marking the first substantial commercial delivery of the product to the US under the AMC agreement to date.

Vanadium Resources (ASX:VR8)
Vanadium has as appointed highly a experienced mining executive and financier John Ciganek, as its CEO effective from 9 January 2023 . Ciganek will remain as a non-executive director until the effective date. He replaces Eugene Nel, who steps down as CEO from the 9 December 2022.