Stocks to Watch: April

MARCH was one of the most volatile periods on record for global markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and no one really knows what April, or the June quarter, will bring.
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"Q2 20 is seen as a challenging period to call what may or may not happen with mobility restrictions and China's return to work seen as key drivers," UBS said this week.

"Mobility restrictions are likely to dominate commodity and equity performance the most, but it will depend on whether supply or demand is most impacted."

UBS expects commodity prices to fall in the June quarter and has updated its forecasts for 2020 as a result.

Copper is now expected to average just US$2.20 a pound this year, down from $2.80/lb, while nickel was downgraded to $5/lb from $6.75/lb, zinc to 88c/lb from $1/lb and aluminium to 73c/lb from 82c/lb.

Gold was the only metal upgraded, from $1600 an ounce to $1649/oz, while bulk commodity forecasts were mostly unchanged.

"At this stage we expect only a one-quarter impact from COVID-19 and a recovery through H2 20 fuelled by fiscal and monetary stimulus," UBS said.

Bell Potter Securities said Australian producers were resilient, despite sharp falls in share prices.

"There is also no doubt that the economic outlook is grim as a result of the global recession that appears an inevitable consequence of measures taken to contain COVID-19," analyst David Coates said.

"However, unlike sectors such as travel, tourism and hospitality which are bearing the full brunt of these measures, mining companies still have a market into which to sell their products."

Coates noted the slump in oil prices meant many Australian mining operations were finding themselves in favourable market conditions.

"With some input cost pressures abating and commodity prices in A$-terms relatively stable (and in the case of gold and iron ore, significantly higher) it is all about maintaining production and navigating the regulatory uncertainty," he said.

Producers are due to release quarterly results this month, where early impacts and commentary will be the key points of interest.

While there might be daily announcements of cost-cutting and activity impacts/suspensions in the junior space, there's still plenty going on.

Lithium and boron developer ioneer will release the definitive feasibility study for its Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada late in the month, a month later than expected due to coronavirus impacts.

Still in the US, American Pacific Borates expects to release an enhanced DFS for its Fort Cady project in California this month after recently finalising engineering work.

Lake Resources is due to release a prefeasibility study for its Kachi lithium project in Argentina.

Alt Resources expects to deliver a maiden ore reserve and PFS for its WA gold projects at the end of April, a month late due to impacts of contractors having to work remotely due to COVID-19.

Alkane Resources is set to release the maiden resource for its San Antonio deposit at Tomingley in New South Wales.

The company is also due to release further results from its exciting Boda gold-copper porphyry discovery.

The market will also be looking out for nickel assays from Chalice Gold Mines' Julimar nickel discovery and Legend Mining's Mawson discovery, both in WA.