Geo-political risk continues to loom over global stock markets, as the ASX got off to a slow start in Monday trade.

Getting information updates on what’s actually happening at the Russia-Ukraine border is proving difficult, with conflicting media reports from mainstream outlets.

Among the latest reports, multiple news outlets have flagged satellite imagery which indicate that Russian troops have taken up field positions on Ukraine’s northeastern border.

A French channel BFM TV reported that Emmanuel Macron held two conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sunday, in another last-ditch diplomatic effort.

The media in France is also reporting that Macron has managed to broker a meeting between Putin and US President Joe Biden.

Some outlets then added that an invasion has commenced. For now, the latest from the White House is that Biden will agree to a meeting with Putin this week on the proviso that an invasion hasn’t already happened.

It follows more skirmishes on the border over the weekend, with more shelling and the evacuation of citizens from Russian-backed separatist states.

In line with the risk-off tone, the ASX200 is treading water in morning trade with a small gain of around 0.1%.

After outperforming on Friday, the composite Microcap Emerging Companies index (AXEC) is down by around 1.4%.

Those falls reflect a broader pickup in volatility, which has seen the AXEC post intraday gains/losses of more than 1% in 16 of 21 trading days over the past month.

Another key barometer of global risk appetite, the Aussie dollar, is trading higher against the major currency pairs on Monday — a possible indicator markets are still holding out hope a military escalation can be avoided.

Gold is holding at US$1,900/oz, while Brent crude oil is little-changed on Monday around US$91/barrel.

Crypto is under pressure, as Bitcoin fell below the US$40,000 level over the weekend while NFT trading platform OpenSea — which recently raised capital at a valuation of US$13.3bn — fell victim to a phishing attack that resulted in the theft of US$1.7m worth of ETH from platform users.

However, crypto markets had a mini-bounce in midday Asian trade following reports of more possible talks between Putin and Western leaders.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 21 [intraday]:

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

Explorer Auking Mining (ASX:AKN) easily led the market on Monday, due to this drilling strike:

A “phenomenal” 105m at 1.94% copper and 55g/t silver from 46m — including a 16.6m chunk grading 10.2% copper and 316g/t silver – in drilling at the ‘Onedin’ deposit, part of the ‘Koongie Park’ project in WA.

Get the full resources wrap here.

Sub-$10m nanocap Swift Networks (ASX:SW1) got a boost, after flagging a strong start to the FY22 second-half with seven new projects wins for a client base of large mining companies, which collectively are expected to generates revenues of ~$1.2m.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 21 [intraday]:

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

Payments company Tyro (ASX:TYR) led the laggards, slumping by 25% as markets responded negatively to its half-year trading update.

Tyro — which counts billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes as its second-largest shareholder — fell after reporting payments revenue of of $146m on total transaction volumes of $15.8bn.

Core earnings came in at $2.8m compared to $8.5m in the prior year period, which Tyro attributed to the deferral of annual merchant pricing adjustments and no JobKeeper payments.