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ASX jumps 0.37% at noon as lithium miners surge

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.37 per cent higher at 7,137.3, with mining stocks leading the march. Sentiment for risk assets had improved in Wall Street on optimism that the US debt ceiling saga was nearing a resolution.

Coles (ASX:COL) slipped 0.4 per cent after taking an additional $25 million provision in relation to its underpayment of staff, more than doubling its initial estimate of backpay owed.
Baby formula company Bubs Australia (ASX:BUB) was the biggest loser, down 1.5 per cent after reporting lower than expected sales, particularly in China.

Lithium miners surged, with Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) up 4.1 per cent and Allkem (ASX:LKE) up 3.7 per cent. The mining giants also advanced, with BHP (ASX:BHP) up 1.4 per cent and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) 0.8 per cent higher. Rio Tinto plans to invest $395 million in a seawater desalination plant in WA.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 31 points.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Materials, up 1.47 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Financials, down 0.37 per cent.

The best-performing large cap is IDP Education (ASX:IEL), trading 4.5 per cent higher at $21.38. It is followed by shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Allkem (ASX:AKE).

The worst-performing large cap is Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ), trading 3.35 per cent lower at $4.91. It is followed by shares in EBOS Group (ASX:EBO) and Yancoal Australia (ASX:YAL).

Asian news

Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher on Thursday after the bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling was passed in the House of Representatives, advancing it to the Senate just days ahead of the default deadline.

The House passed the bill with support from both Democrats and Republicans, a dramatic conclusion to weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 saw a 0.84 per cent gain to close at 31,148.01 after it retreated from the 31,000 mark on Wednesday, with the Topix also up by 0.88 per cent and ending at 2,149.29.

South Korean markets were more mixed. The Kospi was down 0.31 per cent and ended at 2,569.17, being the only major Asian benchmark index to be in the red on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Kosdaq was up 0.8 per cent and closed at 863.78, closing at its highest level in about six weeks.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rebounded after touching bear market territory, with the HSI rising fractionally.

Mainland Chinese markets were also higher, with the Shanghai Composite closing marginally up at 3,204.63.

The Shenzhen Component rose 0.39 per cent to end at 10,835.9, a slight rebound from its lowest level since November 2022.

Company news

Magnis (ASX:MNS; OTCQX:MNSEF; FSE:U1P) has announced that iM3NY has successfully completed 6 out of the 7 relevant tests for UN38.3 certification, with 1 result now pending. The UN38.3 process involves a series of tests, designed to simulate the conditions that the cells may be exposed to during transportation. Shares are trading 12.9 per cent higher at 17.5 cents.

Aurora Labs (ASX:A3D) signs a MOU with Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies. Peter Snowsill, Aurora’s CEO commented: “[we can leverage] Aurora Labs’ technology with Aramco’s vast energy industry experience.” Shares are trading 33.33 per cent higher at 2.8 cents.

Grand Gulf Energy (ASX:GGE) announced that the independent review confirms significant helium flow potential at their wells. MD Dane Lance commented: “The Company now has a range of opportunities across the Red Helium project, and we look forward to being back in the field to confirm the modeling results with a successful flow test.” Shares are trading 33.33 per cent higher at 1.2 cents.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1993.10 an ounce.
Iron ore is 1.1 per cent higher at US$104.35 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 1.86 per cent rise.
One Australian dollar is buying 65.96 US cents.