• Wall Street slump leads the ASX into an early morning drop. Thanks, Obama
  • Benchmark strides deeper into the red, graceful as a moose on rollerskates
  • New Age Exploration has a mystical moment at the peak of Mount Profit

Well, it’s safe to say that Australian markets have been like Kim Kardashian’s career, today – fairly gross to begin with and progressively less attractive the more we kept watching.

After a US-led -0.8% plop this morning, the benchmark has trickled down in precisely the way wealth didn’t under Reaganomics in the 80s, leaking value like a tyre with a nail in it to end the day -1.55% down.

In broad sector news, there are no winners today. Only losers.

As it was this morning, it’s been Energy (-3.42%),Materials (-2.29%), Industrials (-2.15%) and Real Estate (-1.38%) weighing heavily on the index, after some meaty sell-offs among the big names in those key areas.

We’ll get into specifics in a minute, but we’d like to say that we were very impressed with RBA governor Philip Lowe today, who surprised a lot of people with his uncanny and hugely clever impersonation of US Fed chair Jerome Powell.

Speaking to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics in Canberra, Lowe essentially said that Australia needs to remain in place with a firm grip on its ankles and its posterior held high in the air, as interest rate rises are set to continue.

Obviously, this threw even more of a fire blanket over the market sentiment, leading to mid-strength but really persistent sell-offs from investors almost all the way across the board.

There were some outliers atop the see of red today – most notably APM Human Services International (ASX:APM), supplier of employment services and other strategies to help keep welfare numbers low so the government doesn’t look dumb.

APM was up 6.77% today, which has to be tied to Australia’s unemployment rate ticking up +0.1% to 3.5%, because the only other thing we’ve heard from APM recently was an ASX announcement on Monday suggesting another Australian Financial media outlet might want to Review its sources, because something it was speculating about was clearly untrue.

But anyway…



If you’re just getting your head around what’s happened on the Aussie markets, the short version is “Wall Street keeps being weird and we don’t like it”.

US retail sales were sluggish in August, up 0.3% vs survey of flat, as consumers failed to keep up with inflation – and US industrial production also fell 0.2% in August, which was worse than predicted.

The Empire State index, which is a monthly survey of manufacturers in New York state, showed a massive fall of -31.3 points to -1.5 points in September.

A glimmer of hope, though, for the US after an uneasy truce was reached between Rail Unions and Train Owners to yank the emergency brake on plans for a massive stop-work that would have added about $2 billion worth of woe to the US economy, per day, had it gone ahead.

In Asia, there’s been a bit of movement since lunchtime, but none of it enough to turn any index green. Japan’s Nikkei is slightly better off at -0.98%, and Hong Kong has similarly rallied somewhat to reach –0.42%.

Shanghai, however, continued to slide, falling deeper into “Can I borrow a couple of yuan until Monday?” territory, down -1.29% as our day here heads to a close.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:

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Fund manager Contango (ASX:CGA) was leading the winner’s parade through the Small Caps village this morning, up +53% on no news at all – but it got hip-checked out of Big Trophy convention by fast-moving minnow New Age Exploration (ASX:NAE).

New Age provided an update on its Lochinvar metallurgical coal project located on the border of England and Scotland in the United Kingdom, which could be at a turning point due to import bans on Russian coal increasing global demand and prices for metallurgical coal.

“In recent months, NAE has received expressions of interest in the Lochinvar project from a range of potential investors, as the economic outlook for metallurgical coal continues to improve,” New Age executive director Joshua Wellisch said, presumably through a cloud of incense smoke, while lounging on a beanbag, surrounded by tarot card readers and healing crystals.

“NAE remains confident that new technologies that may replace metallurgical coal in the steel sector may not come online for many decades.”

That was enough to have investors, clearly hungry for any sort of good news today, piling on and driving NAE’s price up +83% in a matter of hours.

Also on the rise today was Mamba Exploration (ASX:M24), which has followed the lead of its neighbours Dreadnought (ASX:DRE) and Kingfisher Mining (ASX:KFM) and taken a different look at its recent regional radiometric data.

Through a slightly different lens, Mamba’s been able to locate eight distinct anomalies within the Company’s Ashburton / Gascoyne Project tenements that have “Here be Thorium” written all over them.

Investors like it when things like this happen, and Mamba’s trading +44.0% around lunchtime before easing to a more modest +32% this afternoon.

And, lastly, newbie Octava Minerals (ASX:OCT) has received a warm welcome to the ASX, throwing open the doors to investors and climbing +32.5% in a couple of hours, before it too eased to a more realistic +22.5% for the day.

The rise is more good news for Octava, after a successful $6 million IPO that saw Chinese investors Fuyang Mingjin New Energy Development and Southeast Mingqing Supply Chain (Fuyang) snag about 15% of the company each.

OCT says funds raised will go into exploration on the Company’s flagship East Pilbara Talga lithium JV project – strategically located in the world class lithium region of the Pilbara and its highly-prospective East Kimberley and Yallalong projects all over on the Other Side in WA.

Octava also says there’s lithium mineralisation in pegmatite confirmed at Talga, but there’s been no drilling thus far – but the company has commenced surface mapping and sampling to define drill targets.

And while we try not to pile on about bad news when the market’s glum, there is no way we can ignore what’s happened to Phoslock Environmental Technologies (ASX:PET) today.

PET’s had a hugely bumpy ride for quite some time, with large-scale fraud and all sorts of skullduggery taking place. Finally, though, the ASX seemed happy that things are all above-board and looking good enough to allow PET to start trading again.

So it did, landing with an audible and alarmingly moist-sounding thud, -67.7%. Blergh.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:

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A quick look around the traps while the rest of the team packs up for the weekend, and there’s just enough time to report that Living Cell Technologies (ASX:LCT) is celebrating a new milestone in its use of artificial intelligence (AI), with OptiCellAI completing stage one of the planned use of AI in NTCELL’s manufacture.

“AI is being used to optimise and select high quality encapsulated cells (NTCELL) for implantation into the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, as a potential treatment for the disease that affects millions of people globally,” the company says.

Thus far, under the agreement with OptiCellAI, the first stage comprises the finalisation of the necessary hardware, software and testing specifications, together with creating the final design.

And emerging silica sands developer and explorer, Diatreme Resources Limited (ASX:DRX) has identified an additional potential transport pathway for exports from its Galalar Silica Sand Project (GSSP) to the Port of Cape Flattery.

The company says the new transport option could potentially provide enhanced permitting and approvals certainty, while reducing marine impacts and transport costs.



Caeneus Minerals (ASX:CAD) – Cap Raise? Cap Raise. It’s the polite way of saying hello if you’re suddenly transported back to Victorian times, and you own a hat.

Nexus Minerals (ASX:NXM) – Cap Raise, but only for sophisticated investors, so if you’re still driving a VB Commodore and only own Ugg Boots and thongs, you’re not allowed in.

Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) – Zenith’s got results on the way from its Split Rocks lithium project.

PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) – And there’s news on the way from the US FDA about “a major new product for the US market”. Exciting times!


And with that, we’re outta here. Happy Weekend to you all.