ASX Small Caps Lunch Wrap: Who wants to make small talk about the weather today?
Aussie markets have opened lower today, as bond yields took even more of the gloss off Wall Street, and we had to wear the consequences of the US doing its best to save for a rainy day.
Speaking of which, we wanna tug on your coat about the weather for a bit, because – as they have been saying since the time of Julius Caesar – Quam difficile est proprie tempestatem praedicere?
It’s obviously not all that difficult, because there are clearly some people at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology who have way, waaaaaay too much time on their hands, if recent reports concerning a massively costly rebranding exercise at Australia’s Favourite Weather Nerd Club are to be believed.
Rebrandings usually occur in two circumstances. Either there’s been a terrible incident that has given the business or organisation a bit of a black eye, or the CEO woke up one morning and decided their life just isn’t quite stressful enough and they’re in danger of having their peptic ulcers heal up completely.
We’re not 100% sure why Australia’s national weather buffoons decided that it was necessary for our beloved BoM to not get called The BoM anymore, but at some point it became apparent it was about to happen. So, the process of figuring out what that needed to look like was put out to tender, and a whole bunch of public money was suddenly put on the Endangered Species list.
“But Stockhead…” we hear you ask. “How much money could it possibly cost to make a completely unnecessary change to a public institution that has no direct competitor but still provides an essential, albeit 97% incorrect, service?”
Again, we turn to an ancient, dead language to find that the answer is an “absoluta stercore onus”.
It turns out that someone at The BoM got tired of the organisation being referred to as “The BoM”, and so they hired not one, but two corporate communications companies to ensure that media organisations only ever referred to The BoM as “The Bureau of Meteorology” (a total mouthful) or “The Bureau” (a blatant rip-off of the FBI).
The cost to taxpayers has been nearly a quarter of a million dollars so far, spread across brand strategy and communications companies Era-Co and the aptly-named C Word Communications Agency – which, is very rich considering that there were reportedly some extremely basic mistakes made.
Most glaring was the fact that The BoM went ahead and announced some new social media accounts it would be using to disseminate weather information, without securing those accounts first. Not a good start for an organisation with a reputation that’s meant to be built on being able to see into the near future (we’re talking minutes here) and warn us when things were going to get a bit inclement.
Here’s where it gets a little murky, with an 80% chance of a political storm later in the week: The Guardian is reporting that an individual from The C Word went to work at The BoM as a senior manager in communications delivery at the same time that the agency caught the contract.
We’re not suggesting malfeasance of any sort because – frankly – we don’t fancy getting sued today (we have enough on our plates already, thankyouverymuch).
But there’s a whiff of unpleasant odour around this whole thing, and we – like many Australians – reckon that The BoM should go back to what it does best: getting its weather predictions just wrong enough to ruin farmers’ schedules, boating day trips, and generally raise the national blood pressure a few notches at every available opportunity.
Speaking of which, let’s go take a look at how the markets are doing this morning.
Australian markets opened lower this morning, following a return to recent form on Wall Street that saw all three major indices there down overnight.
The ASX 200 fell 0.95% in early trade, as result that could have been a lot worse if not for the fact that Energy finally got its thumb out of its butt and put in a solid morning’s work, climbing better than 4.0% to offset some pretty awful results across other sectors.
Those included Consumer Discretionary (-2.26%), Health Care (-1.54%), Industrials (-1.70%), Real Estate (-1.64%), InfoTech (-2.71%), Materials (-1.45%), Telcos (-1.77%) and Utilities (-1.71%).
… you get the idea. Utterly, utterly dismal.
Obviously, it’s Energy stocks that are leading the winners this morning, with Woodside (ASX:WDS) up 5.90% on a stellar quarterly report that lead out with these three happy-happy bullet points:
But the Big News among the Big Players this morning belongs to Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR), on news that the company’s been tapped on the shoulder for a US Department of Energy grant of up to US$220 million, and a quarterly report that demonstrates that its mining operations are all performing well, despite ongoing disruptions at Balama.
In the US, it was a less-than-golden performance from Wall Street after bond yields rose once more and Tesla dropped 5% after hours as it missed expectations on revenue for Q3, hitting $21.45 billion against an expected $22.09 billion.
As Early Morning Eddy reports, The S&P 500 was down by 0.67%, Dow Jones by 0.33%, and Nasdaq by 0.85% as US treasury yields soared, with the 10-year rising to the highest level since 2008 ahead of the Fed rate decision on November 2, and the two-year yield jumped to its highest since 2007 as traders price in a peak policy rate closer to 5%.
Fed Bank of St Louis’ Jim Bullard said it’s good the market is pricing in anticipated rate hikes, which should force the Fed to follow through to curb inflation.
“Inflation figures have continued to surprise to the upside, and rates should get closer to 4.5% or 4.75%,” Bullard said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “That will make 2023 a disinflationary year.”
Bullard’s Minneapolis counterpart Neel Kashkari agreed, saying the Fed could pause rate hikes next year if they see evidence that inflation is slowing.
In Japan this morning, things aren’t looking so great either, with the Nikkei dragging down close to 1.0% as it heads for a much-needed lunch break.
On the commodities desk, things are relatively quiet – oil is up 0.4% and gas has climbed 0.82%.
Gold – the literal gold standard of metals – has dipped 0.04%, silver went the other way by 0.22% and copper got in the middle of things, spraying mace around and popping off a few stray rounds to hit +0.18% and some innocent bystanders.
In crypto, the big news is that New Crypto On The Blockchain (and much-vaunted Ethereum killer) Aptos has faltered badly on the way out of the gate, making a fabulous debut with toilet paper stuck to its shoe and the back of its dress tucked into its stockings.
Meanwhile, BTC has dropped 0.9%, ETH has dropped 2.03% and Dejitaru Kaida is trading at $0.000001449, making it the perfect present for someone who has always wanted to own 1 million of something, but doesn’t like rice.
As always, Rob “I’m more of a noodle man, myself” Badman has all the gossip that’s fit to whisper over at Mooners & Shakers.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for October 20 [intraday]:
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In Small Caps, energy minnow Icon (ASX:ICN) is sitting at the head of the table, dragged upwards by the general uptick for the sector. Icon is up by 15.3%, after adding $0.002 on zero news, so it’s most likely riding the crest of a wave it has zero control over, but a win’s a win, right?
Meanwhile, Askari Metals (ASX:AS2) is up 13.9% this morning, after “strategic agreement with Shanghai-listed lithium heavyweight Zhejiang Kanglongda Special Protection Technology Co (by gawd, that’s a mouthful) to “develop Australian lithium assets”.
Askari says the agreement will “create a pathway for the rapid development of its Australian Lithium Assets comprised of Barrow Creek in the NT and the portfolio of Eastern Pilbara Lithium Projects (WA) comprising the Yarrie project, the Talga East project and the Myrnas Hill project”, by granting Zhedg… Shedgee… the other mob a preferred offtake position in relation to commercial production by Askari.
Not having the best of days, however, is RedBubble (ASX:RBL), the print-on-demand marketplace for Independent Artists (think ‘Etsy’ but with less seashells and googly-eyes glued on stuff), which is down 24.3% after a YoY decline from the profit-after-tax-on-demand arm of its business.
After making nearly $1m last year, RBL lost *checks notes* $17m this year.
Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for October 20 [intraday]:
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