Is the Australian share market headed to 6000 points?

ASX 200 Australian share market 6000 points

It is certainly looking that way with the ASX 200 ending the week at a handy 5814.2 points after rising 0.3 per cent on Friday alone.

At that rate the 6000 figure would be hit in just 11 more trading days but as we all know, markets seldom move in straight lines.

At the moment the big banks are helping to drive the market higher, offsetting the drag of the big resources companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto which are suffering in tandem with the slumping iron ore price.

ASX 200 Australian Stock Market 6000 points
Australian stock market: ASX 200 chart.

If we do happen to breach 6000 points it will bring back memories of February 15 in 2007 which is when the ASX 200 first hit that magic mark, before accelerating all of the way to its peak of 6828.7 in November the same year.

That absolute peak will be a much tougher target to reach, although many overseas markets such as the United States have managed to soar straight past their pre-GFC peaks with considerable ease.

Then again, if you are more bearishly inclined, it is worth remembering that we are about to run into the 30th anniversary of Black Monday on October 19 when the US market imploded and we followed suit on Black Tuesday.

The 1987 crash sliced more than 40 per cent off our market by the end of October in 1987 but in retrospect it was a great buying opportunity – not that it felt like that at the time.

Zinc creaming it

Markets always move in cycles and zinc is a great example.

The end of the mining boom was particularly tough on zinc prices and many zinc mines have been depleted with very little effort to find new reserves.

Zinc warehouse stock levels LME chart

With zinc prices low and falling, there was little incentive to invest in exploration and brownfields mine expansions but that situation has changed quickly as the industry hits a supply deficit that few people saw coming.

Zinc is increasingly being used more in technology and the zinc price is really flying, which is great news for the Australian listed zinc miners and explorers.

Lithium charges ahead

Lithium is a slightly different story with demand for larger batteries to power cars, industry and power grids totally transforming the entire market.

Demand for lithium carbonate is now expected to double, or even triple by 2030, which is causing a lot of angst given that the world industry is dominated by just four companies that have forward sold a lot of their production.

But it has been fantastic news for investors in emerging lithium explorers and producers, which are trying to supply a rapidly growing market and provide some important diversification of supply.

Small caps generating lots of news

It has been a very solid week in the small cap space with plenty of news flow to keep the market interested.

Empire Resources generates over $2m cashflow

Empire Resources (ASX: ERL) continued a run of good news as it generated more than $2 million in cash flow as the initial run of production from its Penny’s Find mine was processed by contract mills.

Importantly the ore was free milling with gold recovery at an excellent 94 per cent, with 44 per cent of the gold recovered in the gravity circuit.

With grade control drilling indicating that the head grade of the ore should rise from here on, it is a good sign that the transition to production is proceeding smoothly.

The next big hurdle for Empire will be the feasibility study on whether the mine should progress to an underground stage, which is awaiting deeper drill results.

Mustang Resources bags more rubies

Those who love red stones will be in the bidding for rubies at Port Louis, Mauritius later this month and Mustang Resources (ASX: MUS) will be a big beneficiary.

Mustang’s Montepuez ruby project in Mozambique’s north has been beating expectations, hitting record production of 27,131 carats in September.

That boosts Mustang’s inventory to an impressive 352,260 carats which will now be in the closed bid tender between October 27 and 30.

Scores of ruby buyers from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Europe have registered to participate and Mozambican government representatives will also be on hand.

The Montepuez project covers 19,300 hectares near the world’s largest known ruby deposit which was discovered in 2012.

Tawana boosts lithium resources

Tawana Resources (ASX: TAW) impressed this week with a 47 per cent rise in contained lithium at its Ball Hill lithium and tantalum project in Western Australia’s eastern goldfields, with more upgrades likely.

The update brought the indicated and inferred resource 223,300 contained tonnes of lithium at a 0.5 per cent cut off, with Tantalum resources growing to 5.1 million pounds.

The updated resources only includes about a quarter of the known pegmatites in the project’s south and also does not include recently discovered high grade lithium and tantalum pegmatite located below the starter pit.

With the resources still open in several areas, more drilling should see the numbers continue to rise.

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals reduces arthritis pain

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals (ASX: PAR) had some good clinical osteoarthritis outcomes from its recent case study of 24 patients treated under a special access system.

Two weeks after treatment with Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium (PPS), 83 per cent of patients reported their pain had diminished and 80 per cent recorded improved knee function.

Before treatment patients had suffered from osteoarthritis pain for a minimum of six months and standard therapy avenues of analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids had failed.

With few effective treatment options for osteoarthritis and a forthcoming clinical trial, Paradigm remains one to keep an eye on.

State Gas burns bright

State Gas (ASX: GAS) had an excellent debut on the ASX this week, with shareholders enjoying some instant stag profits as it rose from a $0.20 offer price to as high as $0.38.

With domestic gas in short supply on the eastern seaboard, the market really liked State Gas’ approach of producing conventional gas without any fracking from a lease in central east Queensland.

State Gas has two gas targets, both of which have produced gas during exploration and appraisal.

Week ahead

It is a fairly crowded calendar for economic announcements in the coming week with Australian Reserve Bank Boards minutes out on Tuesday.

There is also a raft of statistics around consumer sentiment, employment, car sales, tourism and business sales.

Internationally there are US housing figures but for a potential left field influence, the Chinese National People’s Congress could always spring a surprise.

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