Local stocks have taken a breather from all the trouble and strife on Wednesday, with the ASX 200 on track to snap a three-day losing streak into midday trade.

But if broken commodity markets and an ugly war in eastern Europe (that’s creating a forced unwind of the complex global trade patterns which underpin the international economy) aren’t your thing, there’s always the Sessho-seki killing stone in Japan.

A staple of Japanese mythology, the ‘killing stone’ apparently houses (or housed) the evil spirit of a nine-tailed fox, which embedded itself inside the rock to evade capture.

In what can only be described as a veteran move, the fox spirit also imbued the rock with a poisonous gas that would kill anyone who touches it.

And a rope on top…

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

But in a recent twist, reports emerged that the rock has now split in half. Either the fox spirit broke free, or cracks formed in the volcanic rock due to natural erosion…

It’s 2022. Let’s roll with the “demon spirit unleashed on the world”.

Back to markets, and risk appetite has picked up today as investors navigate the choppy global conflict waters.

That shift was best demonstrated by the outperformance of ASX tech stocks, which typically trade with a high-beta trend (outsized moves up or down, depending on the direction of risk sentiment).

In line with the more tranquil market conditions, every major sector posted a gain today — a contrast to the recent volatility where spikes in mining and energy stocks were offset by sharp falls elsewhere.

Oh and if you missed it, nickel markets literally broke last night after a short squeeze sent prices mooning into the stratosphere before the London Metals Exchange said all bets are off.

All nickel bets will probably remain off until Friday, the LME said, as investors and regulators sort through the carnage to try and restore order.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 9 [intraday]:

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Junior resources stock Terramin Australia (ASX:TZN) is still on the ramp, after yesterday’s announcement where it said its Algerian joint venture partners have agreed to proceed with the development of Tala Hamza, one of the largest undeveloped zinc and lead deposits in the world.

And ASX investors who were holding shares in Cuba-based oil player Melbana Energy (ASX:MAY) to start the year are now sitting on a 7-bagger after the stock breached 14c this morning — a 7x gain from its 2c level in January.

Investors have been impressed with the company’s drilling updates at its Alameda-1 well, part of its Block 9 contract area in onshore Cuba, amid a global surge in oil prices.

Melbana pressed pause on its latest drill program after encountering high-pressure zones which resulted in an “influx of hydrocarbons into the well-bore. Here’s MAY executive chairman Andrew Purcell:

“This well continues to have plenty to say to us and we’re enjoying hearing it,” Purcell said.

The results will give Melbana’s geoscientists “more to think about when considering what this may mean for our understanding of the subsurface and the resource potential of Block 9”, he added.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 9 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

~$4bn nickel player Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) slumped sharply in morning trade, after global nickel markets seized up overnight.

The stock fell more than 20% before going into a trading halt, with little information other than its resumption of trade “pending a further announcement”.