France’s New Zealanders – they’re known locally as Belgians – will apparently have the right to work a four-day week without any loss of salary thanks to an overhaul of labour laws inspired by COVID-19 and a healthy regard for bière.

The option for these Belgians to work longer days – and earn a three-day weekend – was among a package of reforms which probably included some bière.

Four-day work weeks were trialled in Iceland between 2015 and 2019 and has since become the choice of some 85% of Iceland’s working population.

Belgium also allows its civil servants the right to disconnect and not answer calls or emails from their bosses outside of working hours. Probably because bière.

 

To markets – where we Stockheads aren’t disconnected for even a 15 minute mid-week beach splash.

The ASX is up ~37 points at midday (AEST) to 7244 points on the back of strong gains from several majors which reported this morning.  At the big end Liontown soared ~15% after  striking a five-year lithium deal with Tesla and blood plasma giant CSL rallied 6.6% after a nice guidance upgrade.

Russian reprieve

The ASX was also buoyed by US markets, which bounced back overnight amid reports Russia was pulling back some of its troops from the Ukraine border. The news was a reprieve to markets concerned about the geopolitical tensions.

Ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, along with strong demand for transport fuels is expected to see oil prices remaining toppy.

Brent crude had fallen 2.45% to US$93.50 a barrel, while WTI was up  0.38% to US$92.44 per barrel.

Morgan Stanley is projecting the price of Brent crude will trade at US$100 a barrel through the second half of 2022 and remain at least ~US$95 through 2023.

Gold is slightly weaker trading at US$1852.04 an ounce, while the price of Bitcoin is rallying up 3.81% to US$44,188 at midday (AEST).

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 16 [intraday]:

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Lakes Blue Energy (ASX:LKO) had a 50% rally this morning after announcing a positive drilling update to its Wellesley-2 Well in Queensland’s Surat Basin.

Smart energy software company Simble Solutions (ASX:SIS) was up 30% after announcing Race Oncology (ASX:RAC) executive director and founder Daniel Tillet would join their board to help drive commercialisation of its CarbonView and SimbleSense ESG technologies.

Health and wellness company Wellnex Life (ASX:WNX) was up as well after formalising its joint venture with Australian Dairy Nutritionals Group (ASX:AHF) to launch Australia’s first organic A2 infant formula range using Australian milk under the new brand Ocean Road Dairies.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 16 [intraday]:

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