CLOSING BELL: Be honest. If the Energy sector was a horse right now, you’d shoot it
Link copied to
Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, the ASX has belched out another decidedly sub-par performance, sinking as low as -2.2% at 11 o’clock this morning before trotting out a rather wan “rally” to close out the session down 1.5% instead.
There are no nice words to say about the Energy sector today, because it’s been a shocker. Global banking fears (thanks a bunch, Credit Suisse) and an oil glut in the US sent the sector at-large down a very deep hole today, to land with a whimper and a squelch at -5.0%.
The last time I saw something limping so badly, the vets put a screen around it and murdered it at Randwick Racecourse – one of the most egregiously brutal “late scratchings” in the history of horse racing.
Materials (with the exception of a few hardy Small Caps, and the Goldies) also copped a hiding, down 3.3% for the day – but as evidence that it would have been close to impossible to lose money on gold today, I present to you the Tale of Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN).
EVN was up by as much as 3.13% today, after announcing that its Ernest Henry operation had to be evacuated because of flooding, and won’t be operational for more than a month.
It’s since eased to a far more realistic +0.4%, but still… a 3.0% boost because the mine got flooded is kinda ridiculous.
Health Care did okay today, though, up 1.21% on sales of blood pressure medication and band-aids, while the Telcos just squeezed into positive territory with a 0.2% lift for the session.
One Large Capper that did well today was Pushpay (ASX:PPH), on news that a meeting to decide whether Pegasus BidCo had deep enough pockets to buy the company came to the conclusion that the NZ$1.34 per share was “not enough”.
A 18.6% rump of votes on the matter held by six institutional investors swayed the argument, when it was agreed that they’d come on board if the offer was a bit tastier – NZ$1.42 per share was where they landed, and PPH shot up 14.1% when word got out.
Anyone holding their breath that the imminent collapse of the US banking system might be a good thing for interest rates in Australia will no doubt be dismayed by news that unemployment has dropped, Big Time.
The Australian Bureau of Counting Numbers and Stuff (ABS) has reported that the jobless rate fell to 3.5% in February, with approximately 65,000 jobs added to the roster – which is great news for people who think Social Security is a sin in the eyes of God, but bad news for people with mortgages.
The Reserve Bank Board’s monthly shuffle to the pig trough is due on Tuesday, and while the enormous levels of uncertainty around the health of the global banking sector had been shaping up as a strong motivator for the RBA to hit pause on the rate hikes, the drop in unemployment is pretty much the only excuse the Board will need to twist Australia’s nipples again.
Leaving aside the endless talk of collapsing banks (please… I’m completely over it for today), let’s turn instead to news that Lender of Monies to People Who Should Know Better, Latitude Group (ASX:LFS) has been hacked, potentially exposing private data of its 2.7 million customers across Australia and New Zealand.
The company says that it’s been the victim of a “a malicious and sophisticated cyberattack” – which is probably gilding the lily just a tad, because the hacker reportedly pinched login credentials for Latitude from another company, and walked in right through the tradesman’s entrance.
Latitude responded to the hack by turning off its website and saying “sorry”, and will remain in a trading halt until it’s got a better handle on what’s been stolen – but early reports suggest that the attacker has had access to parts of Latitude’s system where personal ID and other details about its customer base are stored, including driver’s licence details.
“It’s time for the Australian companies to think hard about password and identity management,” Dr Jabed Chowdhury, a lecturer at La Trobe University’s Cyber Security Program, told the SMH.
“Two steps even three steps password protection mechanism is the need of the time.”
Meanwhile, the other big data breach story of the day continues to develop, with Intellectual Property services mob IPH (ASX:IPH) confirming that it’s had a visit from the Bad Guys as well.
Per the company’s statement to the ASX: “Based on preliminary analysis, it appears the incident is primarily limited to the document management systems (DMS) of the IPH head office and two IPH member firms in Australia, Spruson & Ferguson (Australia) and Griffith Hack, and the practice management systems (PMS) of these two member firms.”
“The information contained in the DMSs includes documents relating to the administration of these entities and, in the case of the two IPH member firms, client documents and correspondence,” IPH says.
“We will continue to keep our clients, shareholders and key stakeholders updated as we respond to this event and our investigation continues and further facts are established.” – and IPH is down 14% while they wait for that to happen.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:
Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:
There’s been some movement on the ladder since lunch time, propelling Inhalerx (ASX:IRX) to the top of the ladder on +45% for the session, for no discernible reason.
The morning’s early galloper, Dynamic Metals (ASX:DYM) was up by more than 60% earlier on news that it drilled some holes in the ground and found a bunch of nickel at Dordie Far West, part of the Widgiemooltha project.
Hole WDR002 returned a 15m intersection grading 1.86% nickel from a down-hole depth of just 27m including 6m at 2.4% nickel while WDR003 struck two zones of 15m at 1.11% nickel from 30m and 12m at 1.58% nickel from 48m including 3m at 2% nickel.
Notably, the thick widths and high-grade tenor encountered compare favourably with historical drilling by Mincor Resources in the late 2000s, which returned results such as 8m at 1.3% nickel from 26m and 2m at 1.9% nickel from 26m.
DYM’s price has eased substantially since lunch, however, on track to finish the day up by around 32%.
Saturn Metals (ASX:STN) has bolted this afternoon as well, after the gold explorer revealed some juicy new intercepts at its 1.4Moz Apollo Hill gold resource, 50km southeast of Leonora in the North Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia.
Saturn’s MD, Ian Bamborough, seems cautiously happy, saying the recent drilling has uncovered “potential for a significant amount of gold in a relatively small portion of the deposit”.
“The implications for both the planned pilot heap leaching operation and the bigger project are quite positive,” he continued.
“We look forward to updating our plans for the bulk sample pit with this new drilling information and to receiving and reporting on the next batch of assays from the drilling completed to date.
“Geological learnings from this more detailed look at the asset are being applied to the greater Apollo Hill deposit to help guide our ongoing exploration and resource development activities.”
Fresh news from Ballymore Resources (ASX:BMR) sees it trading 14.3% higher, after the company announced assay results from its Dittmer gold project, near Proserpine in North Queensland.
The assays include intercepts of 3.5m @ 8.89g/t Au & 2.7g/t Ag including 2.75m @ 11.24g/t Au & 3.4g/t Ag, and 0.55m @ 48.82g/t Au & 14.4g/t Ag.
And lastly, Atlantic Lithium (ASX:A11) has continued its recovery after being hit with accusations of bribery and corruption in connection with its lithium play in Ghana a week ago.
Atlantic is up 13.6% today – but its working partner Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL), which was the main subject of those accusations, is not faring so well. It’s down 3.9% this morning, despite encouraging news that it has produced its first saleable, commercial grade lithium concentrate at its North American Lithium operation in Québec, Canada.
Here are the least best performing ASX small cap stocks:
Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:
A few notable announcements that you might’ve missed today include news from Happy Valley Nutrition (ASX:HVM) that it has reached an agreement with Merricks Capital to extend the current maturity date of its secured debt facility from 15 March 2023 until 20 March 2023.
Happy Valley and Merricks first started kicking this can down the road in the days before Christmas last year, with HVM chairperson Kevin Bush saying at the time that the agreement “gives us the necessary flexibility over the Christmas and New Year period to progress discussions to finalise our funding strategy and to commence the construction phase”.
The agreement carried with it a very large condition – HVM was required to undertake and complete a share issuance, rights offer, or other equity raise sufficient to bring in NZD$5 million, 2 million of which needed to go to Merrick “on or before 3 February 2023”.
So far, that condition has been deferred five times, there’s been no mention of an equity raise from HVM and the maturity date of the debt facility went sailing past yesterday – hence the last-minute extension announced today.
Chairperson Bush thanked Merricks Capital “for their ongoing support”, when what he probably meant to say was “for having the patience of a saint”.
Meanwhile, Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C) has announced that the company has a new Pope, following the appointment of Patrick Merrin as President and CEO effective April 24, 2023.
Merrin has extensive experience in the mining industry including ten years of senior executive operational and technical experience focused on North American mines and projects, including most recently acting Senior Vice President of Canadian Operations at Newcrest (ASX:NCM).
And lastly in some Real Estate sector news, Mustera Property Group (ASX:MPX) has announced that the people of Fremantle will soon have a new eyesore, after its $80 million McCabe Street project got the green light from local authorities.
Per the announcement, the development at 15 McCabe Street in the beachside suburb of North Fremantle will offer “a mix of 42 residential apartments across 8 storeys, with views to Rocky Bay, Fremantle, and Leighton Beach”.
“The development achieves 100% Silver Level Liveable Housing requirements to support flexibility for ageing in place” – which I think means it’s also going to include a senior citizen yoga room, but I’ll need to check that and get back to you.
Kelsian Group (ASX:KLS) – Pro-rata, accelerated, non-renounceable entitlement offer.
Latitude Group (ASX:LFS) – Data breach. See above.
YPB Group (ASX:YPB) – Capital raising.
TZ (ASX:TZL) – Capital raising.
Beacon Minerals (ASX:BCN) – Material project acquisition.