• ASX to break slump today, even as Wall Street slipped
  • Tech stocks, iron ore, copper all rose overnight
  • Aussie Defence to get a $50bn budget increase


Aussie shares are set to take a breather from a six-day slump, with the ASX 200 index futures contract pointing up by +0.20% at 8AM AEST.

Overnight however, the S&P 500 fell by -0.58%, its fourth straight day of declines. The blue chips Dow Jones index was also down by -0.12%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped by -1.15%.

Wall Street was mainly dragged down by Tech stocks, witch chipmakers bearing the brunt of selling.

Nvidia led the losses in US megacaps, down almost -4%. Rival chipmaker ASML Holding was down -6.7% in Amsterdam.

UBS rose half a per cent after announcing plans to unleash another round of job cuts.

Meme stock Trump Media bounced back by over +15%, while United Airlines surged +17% as the airliner forecast better-than-expected profit this quarter.

Fundamentals and technical trends however still appear to be supportive for equities, says Max Kettner of HSBC.

“Sentiment and positioning are not flashing a warning signal, though real money investors have started to extend their constructive stance on equities lately,” he told Bloomberg.

Algo trading meanwhile was blamed for the -3% crash in oil prices overnight. A band of algorithmic money managers trading on chart signals are thought to be behind the rapid selloff.

Iron ore prices jumped around +6%, pushing BHP and Rio Tinto up by +3% each on the London Stock Exchange.

Copper prices rallied again, this time by +1.6% on the LME on the back of persistent warnings about the metal’s tight supply.

Back home today, the focus will turn to the jobs data release at 11.30am AEST. In February, the unemployment rate came in at 3.7%, but there is consensus that it will jump to 3.9% in March.


$50bn more for Aussie defence

Defence minister Richard Marles has unveiled a $50 billion budget spending increase over the next decade, to “resist coercion, and maintain Australia’s way of life.”

In total, the Albanese Government has allocated $330 billion for the Integrated Investment Program over the decade to 2033-34, a significant bump from the $270 billion for the period to 2029-30.

“We are making historic investments to transform the ADF in the medium long term by introducing next generations capability over the next four years,” Marles said.

The shopping list includes new and upgraded weapons, long range missiles, new warships, and the AUKUS nuclear-powered subs.


The shopping list

Source: Department of Defence


In other markets …

Gold price traded -0.55% lower to US$2,364.70 an ounce.

Oil prices also fell -3%, blamed mostly on algo trading, with Brent crude now trading at US$87.55 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield slipped 7 basis points (bond prices higher) to 4.59%, falling from its highest level this year of 4.66%.

Iron ore price surged by +6% to S$115.85 a tonne.

The Aussie dollar bounced back by -0.5% to US64.38 cents.

Bitcoin meanwhile was down -4% in the last 24 hours to US$61,294.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Altamin (ASX:AZI)
Altamin has released a maiden Mineral Resource estimate (MRE) for the Lazio Geothermal Lithium Project. Total MRE volume is 158.701 million, with around 150m inferred and 8m indicated. Altamin says the MRE contains exceptionally high potassium grades, which average 27% (Indicated) and 7% (Inferred) sulphate of potash equivalent per m3 of brine.

SRG Global (ASX:SRG)
SRG announced it has been awarded multiple contracts with new and existing clients in the transport, resources and energy sectors across Australia. The value of the new works secured is $150m. The projects include a three-year term contract with Evolution Mining to provide specialist production drill and blast services, and geotechnical maintenance services at the Cowal gold operations in NSW.

Battery Age Minerals (ASX:BM8)
Summer fieldwork program is set to commence at Falcon Lake in Ontario, Canada, with geological teams mobilised across the under-explored tenure adjacent to known mineralisation. The 2024 program will build on the successful field campaigns completed last year, which confirmed the presence of high-grade spodumene mineralisation across a 5km prospective corridor.

SI6 Metals (ASX:SI6)
A third drill program is set to commence in Brazil, targeting lithium and rare earth elements. The Padre Paraíso project is located in the Lithium Valley, Minas Gerais in close proximity to Sigma’s Grota Do Cirilo lithium-producing mine and Latin Resources’ Colinas Resource.

Iceni Gold (ASX:ICL)
Iceni announced that proceeds from $2.2m in surplus asset sales are to be used to fund ongoing exploration programs, including RC drilling at the Guyer Well, Everleigh Well, Goose Well, and Hages Bore Gold targets.


At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Battery Age Minerals is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.