Risk appetite is back on local markets — at least for now — as investors take it day-by-day with the escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions.

US stocks dipped overnight, following a wild speech from Russian leader Vladimir Putin which appeared to ratchet up the invasion rhetoric.

Putin then signed an executive order claiming sovereignty over two regions on the Ukraine border that have been in dispute since 2014.

The US and other Western countries responded with a wave of sanctions targeting Russian banks and oligarchs.

Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov didn’t appear to phased: “We’re used to it”, he said.

For now, the outlook on the dispute looks clear as mud.

But if you want an update in six different languages from the same multi-lingual correspondent (who clearly paid attention in school), this video is for you:

To Markets….

Where Australian investors haven’t given in yet with the ASX rallying in morning trade on the back of promising wages growth.

Quarterly wage data came out, which showed the seasonally adjusted wage price index rose 0.7% in the December quarter and 2.3% on annual basis. The private and public sector both rose 0.7%, in line with expectations.

The RBA is wanting to see annual rages growth accelerate to at least 3%.

At 12.25 (AEST) the ASX was up 35.10 points or 0.49% to 7196.40 points. The session’s rally comes in contrast to the US and Europe markets with sanctions starting against Russian banks and elites, after President Vladamir Putin deployed troops inside eastern Ukraine.

The S&P 500 was down by 1.23%, the Dow Jones by 1.42%, and tech heavy Nasdaq by 1.23%.

Global oil prices which have rallied in response to the Ukraine and Russia crisis remain steady. Brent Crude was down only a slight 0.87% to US$96.50 a barrel while WTI was up .17% to US$91.76%.

The price of gold has risen 0.34% to ~US$1910.70 an ounce. Bitcoin is down 0.32% to US$38,171.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 23 [intraday]:

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

The biggest winners today was Bass Oil (ASX:BAS), Alliance Resources (ASX:AGS) and Rewardle Holdings (ASX:RXH), all on no news.

Castle Minerals (ASX:CDT) was up ~26% to 0.053 after announcing the company announced it had identiied several discrete lithium anomalies at its Woodcutters lithium project in the Norseman region of Western Australia.

The Collection House (ASX:CLH) share price rallied 21% to 0.145 cents after Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP) announced it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire the New Zealand purchased debt ledger (PDL) book of the company for ~$12 million.

As part of the deal,  Credit Corp has acquired the senior secured debt of Collection House from its banking syndicate. It has also advanced a working capital loan facility to Collection House, totally $7.5 million of funding.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 23 [intraday]:

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