Local markets have opened higher this morning, no thanks to an impolite mish-mash from Wall Street and Europe overnight, which saw a unreasonably solid sell-down of tech stocks including a 6.0% slice off Tesla.

Despite that poor intro, the ASX added 0.5% in the first 15 minutes, buoyed by a scorching jump for Forrestania Resources (ASX:FRS), and an equally-impressive surge for KFC owner Collins Foods (ASX:CKF) in early trade.

But that’s not the only chicken update that the market should be paying attention to today, following news out of the US that “Cultivated Meat” has reportedly been cleared for sale by the US Department of Agriculture.

Two companies – Upside Foods and Good Meat – have been given the nod by US authorities to label and sell lab-grown chicken meat, which quite naturally (or unnaturally, depending on your perspective) raises all sorts of questions.

For starters, can they really market it as “chicken meat”, given that the meat in question has been about as closely attached to a set of feathers as you, or I, have in our lifetimes?

It begs the question, “when it comes to food, what’s in a name?” – the answer to which lies in just how far Americans are prepared to go in accepting that what it says on the label makes sense.

Take, for example, the acceptance of Holloywood Actor/International Bozo, Shia LeBoeuf, whose name is one of the most curious appellations the US has foisted upon the world in recent times.

Breaking it down into its constituent parts reveals that it’s a name that is, quite simply, baffling. “Shia” is a named derived from ancient Hebrew, meaning “a gift from God” – pretty standard stuff. “Bouef”, obviously, is French for “beef”. However, the “La” prefix to the actor’s name presumes that we’re talking about the feminine variant of the noun.

So if America’s okay with accepting a Hollywood actor whose name literally means “A gift from God of Lady Beef”, then they’re highly likely to accept “Cultivated Meat” as a label for Test Tube Chicken.

Besides, we’ve all been fine with eating chicken nuggets for decades, despite knowing that the euphemestically-named “mechanically separated chicken” is industry code for “baby chickens with doo-dads instead of hoo-haas” that have been fed en masse into a grinder, then injection-moulded into nugget shapes, because they’re of no other value since they can’t lay eggs.

Anyway, test tube chicken is on its way onto plates in the United States, which means it’s only a matter of time before the horrifying effects are in full display – but in the meantime, it’s a boon for companies that sell identifiable chicken bits by the bucket, including one of today’s ASX success stories.

 

TO MARKETS

Local markets have opened higher this morning, hitting +0.4% before lunch despite a solid ker-thunk for InfoTech stocks this morning, led by a similar slump in the US (which I’ll get to in a minute, if you’re nice).

Leading the local market this morning is a much-needed bump for Real Estate stocks, with that sector doling out a 1.7% jump thanks to solid performances among retail space giants Charter Hall (ASX:CQE) on +2.46%, and Westfield operators Scentre Group (ASX:SCG) on +3.0%.

Materials (+0.7%) and Financials (+0.7%) are also tracking well this morning, making a mockery of the beleaguered InfoTech sector, which is languishing on -0.55% this morning thanks to ructions in the US overnight.

The big banks in particular are performing well, with CBA (ASX:CBA) up 1.27%, and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) up 0.8% this morning – their appearance on the leader board saying more about the state of the overall market this morning than their individual performances, though.

But absolutely cracking it today is a huge surge for Collins Foods (ASX:CKF), which is up 13% before a huge, greasy lunch on earnings news showing that revenue from continuing operations is up 14.2% to $1,349.5 million.

That is a lot of Zinger combos for the company behind Australia’s most-loved source of poultry-induced coronary heart disease, KFC – but it’s great news for shareholders, who will see divvies in the order of fully franked final dividend of 15.0 cents per ordinary share (cps) declared for an FY23 total dividend of 27.0 cps fully franked.

The Colonel is pleased.

 

NOT THE ASX

Wall Street offered up a muted result overnight, after a hard sell-off on major tech stocks saw some of the biggest names in the business fall more than 3.0% overnight, including Microsoft, Nvidia and Meta.

Tesla took a hammering as well, falling 6.0% after being hit with a Goldman Sachs downgrading, which cited significant headwinds for the EV market – no doubt following what looks like a market-busting surge in stimulation from China designed to elevate it to the top of the EV market tree.

The incomparable Christian “Chedward” Edwards has all the juicy high-voltage gossip on that right here.

Last night saw the major US indices looking a little indecisive (except for the tech sector), with the Dow flat (-0.04%), the S&P down 0.45% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq down 1.16%.

European stocks also fared poorly overnight, as the markets there dealt with the blowback from the Wagner Group’s abortive attempt to march on Moscow.

Those markets closed slightly lower as investors looked back on a fairly dour weekend, with the FTSE100 and the Dax both down 0.11% by the close of the session.

Oil prices edged slightly higher, following a tumultuous weekend in Europe that saw an armed rebellion against Russian President Vladimir Putin by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, get within 200km of Moscow before calling off the attack.

Brent Crude prices rose +0.7% to $US74.33 per barrel, as the renewed trouble in Eastern Europe upset the energy markets there once more.

Meanwhile, gold firmed above three-month lows after banking its worst week since February, thanks to the worsening issues for Moscow.

In Japan, the Nikkei is down 0.82% this morning on news that the robot revolution isn’t quite going to plan.

The latest indication that the rise of the machines is hitting fresh hurdles was a new unmanned, robotically operated soba noodle stand between platforms 11 and 12 of JR Ueno Station in Tokyo was forced to close after the mechanical chef blew through its entire stock of ingredients in world record time.

According to the restaurant’s owners, it was meant to be able to produce a fresh bowl of noodles (with various toppings, of course) every 90 seconds or so – but it was so swamped by curious shoppers that it ran out of stuff to cook with faster than the pathetic humans tasked with providing raw materials could keep up.

Efforts are no doubt underway to build a new generation of delivery robots, at which point all bets are off and Tokyo will be declared an unsafe space for ambulatory meatbags.

Shanghai markets are up 0.4% as the EV market domination moves by China heat the economy up, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is up 1.0% in early trade, possibly because of a spot of interesting crypto news.

Speaking of which, HSBC has reportedly given the green light to its Hong Kong customers to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum futures Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), according to crypto market watcher Colin Wu.

The news has helped BTC cling to a $30,000 high water mark, which has made Rob “Pass me my floaties” Badman  a happy camper, over at Mooners and Shakers this morning.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for June 27 [intraday]:

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You don’t need your reading glasses to see who’s out on top this morning, after Forrestania Resources (ASX:FRS) issued a release at 8:20am to crow about hitting a lot (like, a lot) of potentially lithium-bearing pegmatite in 13 of 14 drill holes at the Calypso prospect, part of the Forrestania project in WA.

The thickest intercept was 63m, the company says, adding that assays are due in about weeks – and that was enough to have FRS up as high as +180%, before the ASX pulled on the handbrake just before 11:00am with the needle on +163%.

At 12:35pm, FRS went into a trading halt and I’ve managed to hold on juuuust long enough before filing this to be able to report that the company’s been asked to provide a supplementary table and information to its release this morning.

It’s not the first time it’s happened, though – FRS hit a similar issue three weeks ago while announcing pegmatite news at its Eastern Goldfields tenements.

In second place is Health Care player Inoviq (ASX:IIQ), up 40% this morinng after revealing that its SubB2M/CA15-3 breast cancer test detects all stages of breast cancer with excellent accuracy (87%), sensitivity (81%) and specificity (93%).

Inoviq, a developer of next-generation exosome solutions and precision diagnostics, says that an independent clinical validation study of its SubB2M/CA15-3 blood test has produced really strong results, which “support the commercial potential of our simple, cost-effective test for screening and monitoring of breast cancer”.

And in third place this morning, it’s Lincoln Minerals (ASX:LML), up 36% on news that it has drilled into broad zones of shallow, high grade graphite alongside the existing 1.85Mt @ 9.8% Koppio resource, part of the Kookaburra Gully project in South Australia.

New results include a highlight 29m @ 12.65% TGC (total graphitic carbon) from 60m, including 13m @ 18.24 % TGC from 69m.

It’s a welcome return to the land of the living for Lincoln, which was MIA from the ASX for quite some time, and only made a recent return to the fold at the start of this month after a will-it-or-won’t-it acquisition saga co-starring Quantum Graphite (ASX:QGL) which remains unresolved.

QGL is in a trading halt right now, but that’s reportedly due to upcoming results from  “further thermal testing on samples of Uley Graphite at higher temperatures”, and nothing to do with Lincoln, apparently.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for June 27 [intraday]:

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