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ASX up 0.32% at noon as oil prices surge

Oil prices surged towards $100 per barrel as US storage hub stockpiles hit critical lows, with West Texas Intermediate trading near $94 per barrel after a 3.6% jump, driven by Cushing, Oklahoma inventories falling to their lowest levels since July the previous year.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.32 per cent higher at 7,052.70.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 14 points.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy, up 2.29 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Consumer Staples, down 1.1 per cent.

The best-performing large cap is Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), trading 4.91 per cent higher at $7.27. It is followed by shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN).

The worst-performing large cap is Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company (ASX:SOL), trading 6.03 per cent lower at $31.94. It is followed by shares in Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) and Coles Group (ASX:COL).

Asian markets

Asia-Pacific markets fell after notching some gains on Wednesday as an uptick in Treasury yields and oil prices dented investor sentiment on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 1% in early trade, while the Topix saw a larger loss of 1.05% on Thursday morning.

Futures for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index stood at 17,582, also pointing to a weaker open compared with the HSI’s close of 17,611.87.

South Korea’s markets are closed for a public holiday.

Company news

Clean lithium developer Lake Resources (ASX: LKE; OTC: LLKKF) confirms that Lilac Technologies’ direct extraction technology has been proven successful through extensive field testing at the flagship Kachi project in Argentina. In response, Lake CEO David Dickson said, “this is a key milestone for DFS preparation for Phase 1 of the Kachi project and a major derisking of the Kachi project.” Shares are trading 6.25 per cent higher at 17 cents.

Latin Resources Limited (ASX: LRS) announced solid PEA results at the Company’s 100% owned Colina Lithium Project located in Brazil. The Company reported an after-tax NPV of A$3.6 billion, IRR of 132% and a total life of mine revenue of A$12.6 billion. Shares are trading 2.88 per cent lower at 25 cents.

Noble Helium (ASX:NHE) reports that rig-up of Marriott Rig #16 is approaching the final stages at the Company’s North Rukwa Helium Project in Tanzania. In response, Noble Helium CEO and Co-Founder, Mr Justyn Wood, said: “We are applying over 20 years of very successful exploration experience throughout the East African Rift system to pinpoint locations for its accumulation in the subsurface – it is coming together and we are extremely confident.” Shares are trading 8.11 per cent higher at 20 cents.

Lithium Universe (ASX:LU7) announced that Primero Group has been appointed as the Concentrator Engineering Study Manager in relation to the design of a multi-purpose standalone concentrator. In response, Mr Iggy Tan, the Chairman of LU7 stated, “The design of the QLPH concentrator will be closely directed and supervised by the LU7 team of lithium experts. We know what we want to design and build, Primero will be executing our very specific plans.” Shares are trading 1.92 per cent higher at 5 cents.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1782.70 an ounce.

Iron ore is 0.8 per cent higher at US$118.30 a tonne.

Iron ore futures are pointing to a 1.42 per cent rise.

One Australian dollar is buying 63.64 US cents.

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