It’s looking like another sombre day for the ASX with SPI Futures down 27 points ahead of the open after US stocks fell for their fourth consecutive day.

The Dow closed 0.49% down, the Nasdaq down 0.76% and the S&P 500 fell 0.9%. Things were a bit greener in Europe and London, but not much. A mixed result in the face of a pledge from Chinese President Xi Jinping to focus on his country’s economy in the face to a spike in Covid-related hospitalisations.

US 10-year bond yields were up 11bps; the 2-years up 8.6bps.

Commodities had a rollercoaster night, with oil up for the first time this week. Nickel and tin were down 3.81% and 0.82%, copper enjoyed the weaker USD to pop 0.51%, but iron ore was down 0.64%. Gold – down 0.3%. Bitcoin – down 1.06%.

All pretty gloomy, but overnight former New York Fed President William Dudley warned against celebrating any positive market sentiment. Those were the type of things, he said, that “could only make the central bank tighten further”.

The AUD has clawed 0.15% back on a mostly unchanged USD, sitting at 66.96c.

Today’s data drop in Australia is all about the minutes following RBA’s December announcement to raise rates for the eighth straight month.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Real estate listings specialist Domain Holdings Australia (ASX:DHG) has a trading update noting that “cost expectations in the range of $275-280 million were under review as a result of the meaningful change in the property market operating environment”. There’s some deatil in there about how DHG plans “cost savings initiatives” (ominous) in the order of $21-$26 million… but the real news is some insight into the ruinous state of the Australian property market right now. Roll the tape, DHG…

The 4% new listings growth delivered in FY23 Q1 has been followed by a decline of 16% in October and 22% in November. Inner city Sydney and Melbourne continue to experience particular weakness, with November listings down 38% and 32% respectively. December is experiencing an earlier than usual seasonal decline … month to date listings are down around 51% in Sydney and 37% in Melbourne.

National essential power and communications infrastructure provider GenusPlus Group (ASX:GNP) has won a $15 million contract with Fortescue Future Industries (FFI). The $168m market cap company will design and construct a 275kV substation at FFI’s Green Energy Manufacturing Centre (GEM) in Gladstone, Queensland. Stage One will kick off with construction of an electrolyser facility which GEM reckopns will see Gladstone “become a world leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers … vital in the production of green hydrogen. Work will start immediately, aiming for completion in 2023.

Directors at Norwest Energy (ASX:NWE) have advised shareholders to TAKE NO ACTION in regard to a full takeover bid by JV partner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) last week. MinRes offered one fully paid ordinary share in MinRes for every 1,367 Norwest Energy shares, which worked out to around 0.06c per NWE share, a 33% premium at the time to NWE’s 0.045c value. It was also a 27% premium to the one-month volume weighted average and an 11% premium to the 52-week high of $0.054 on August 30. Norwest, predictably, is now trading at 0.059, but directors want shareholders to not sell out give them some time to focus on “maximising shareholder value”.

Mineral sands producer Strandline Resources (ASX:STA) has loaded up its first shipment of Heavy Mineral Concentrate (HMC), a $6.5m cargo for which it expects payment to be received “later this week”. The 6,500 metric tonnes of HMC containing valuable minerals of zircon sand, titanium ores and rare earth monazite was loaded at the Port of Geraldton, and looks like it’s headed for China, if this pic is anything to go by:

It’s a landmark moment as part of ore commissioning and ramp-up of the $500m market cap’s Wet Concentration Plant (WCP) at Coburn.

RemSense (ASX:REM) “has developed virtualplant, a photographic asset visualisation platform that fulfills the promise of VR/AI technology as a digital representation of plant assets”. True story. And it’s just won a $206,000 contarct to provide its first photogrammic “digital twin” of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO). The virtualplant will include the oil processing and offtake facility as well as the marine vessel. The contract includes operational data capture and a SaaS agreement for an initial one-year contract.