Local markets hit a bit of a lull on Tuesday, as the ‘conflict investing’ backdrop heads into its third week.

The primary themes in Asian trade on Monday — elevated gold prices and massive moves in the oil & gas market — are still in force to start the week.

It’s all about commodities, and overnight there was a parabolic move in nickel prices which ripped higher by 30% to 15-year highs near US$55,000/t.

Russia produces 6-11% of primary nickel metal (depending on your source) thanks to nickel giant Norilsk.

And if you look at only the purer nickel products suitable for use in electric vehicle batteries, Russia produces around 17% of all “class 1” nickel, BloombergNEF estimates.

Copper is also trading at all-time highs, which raises the question — are Aussies better off melting down their coin stash?

While investors await the medium-term fallout from Russia’s invasion, the ASX 200 is trading flat while the composite microcap Emerging Companies index again posted an outsized fall (-1.5%) in morning trade.

Tech stocks are still under pressure, while energy stocks have cooled off following yesterday’s big rally with more muted moves in the mining and banking sectors.

The Aussie dollar is still holding above US73c, but came under pressure overnight amid a broad round of strength for the USD.

While the AUD has edged higher following Russia’s invasion, “a stronger thread of worries” about global economic growth flowing from the crisis is now “weighing on the commodity currencies”, CBA agri-specialist Tobin Gorey said.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 8 [intraday]:

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A plethora of junior resources stocks populated this morning’s winners list, with Tennant Minerals (ASX:TMS) leading the way after flagging a ‘spectacular’ copper strike at its Bluebird copper-gold project in Tennant Creek, NT.

Also posting similar gains was Terramin Australia (ASX:TZN), which operates zinc and gold projects in South Australia and Algeria.

Last night after markets closed, TZN announced that its Algerian joint venture partners have “formally endorsed the Tala Hamza zinc project and agreed to proceed with the development of the project”.

“The ‘Decision to Mine’ clears the path for the issue of the mining permit by the Algerian mining regulator,” TZN said.

WA-based explorer NickelSearch (ASX:NIS) also posted strong gains, after flagging the completion of aircore drilling and the commencement of RC and diamond drilling at its flagship Carlingup nickel project in Ravensthorpe.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 8 [intraday]:

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