Last week marked a serious wobble on global stock markets, as the Nasdaq slumped by 7.6% to move into official ‘correction’ territory — down ~14% from its recent all-time highs.

Following more sharp falls on Friday, the S&P500 has now fallen by around 8% from its recent all-time highs.

Has the post-COVID bubble gone ‘pop’?

Possibly… but investors who believe in metaphorical rays of light need look no further than the University of Lille in France, where physicists extended the life of a single bubble to an impressive 465 days.

Standard soap bubbles usually last only seconds before popping. But the scientists staved off the laws of gravity that usually drain bubbles of water by deploying the stabilising effects of the chemical compound glycerol.

On local markets, ASX investors were bracing for a storm after US tech stocks got smashed on Friday night.

So far though, stocks are in the red but fears of a Monday meltdown appear to have subsided.

The ASX 200 is off its intraday lows with a fall of around 0.5%, but the microcap Emerging Companies index hasn’t been spared with a fall of ~3.5%.

US stock futures have also been pushing higher in Monday Asian trade, with Nasdaq futures trading a short time ago at +0.8%.

Along with the now-entrenched fears about tighter financial liquidity and rising interest rates, geopolitical tensions are also lingering.

Reports emerged this morning that the US has ordered the families of diplomats to leave the Ukraine, amid the prospect of a possible Russian invasion.

Elsewhere in markets, gold stocks were out of favour with the precious metal holding above US$1,830/oz while Bitcoin has stabilised above US$36,000 following a sharp selloff over the weekend.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for January 24 [intraday]:

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Among stocks with news, ASX newcomer Virdis Mining (ASX:VMM) was a notable winner after reversing a run of lacklustre IPOs with a solid debut this morning.

The WA-based junior explorer raised $5.5m from investors at 20c per share and opened around 50% higher at 30c on its first day of trade.

Resources again dominated the winner’s list, although there were also some morning gains for $5.5m minnow Cycliq Group (ASX:CYQ) following the release of its December 4C filing.

The bike camera and equipment company reported positive operating cash flows of $1.12m, on cash receipts of $2.31m.

And internet connection platform Uniti Group (ASX:UWL) also rose strongly in the wake of sector consolidation rumours, after flagging that it’s received approaches from “multiple parties” with acquisition offers.

Shares in UWL climbed above $4 in morning trade, up ~1,900% from its 2019 listing price of 20c.

Gold is holding steady at US$1835.85.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for January 24 [intraday]:

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

Leading the laggards was Argonaut Resources (ASX:ARE), which fell sharply after being notified that the exploration licence for its Lumwana West copper-cobalt project had not been renewed by the Zambian Government on 28 December 2021 “as expected”.

The company said its Zambian lawyers discovered that key compliance documents weren’t provided as requested, which appears to have been grounds to cancel the licence.

But also “a new licence over the Lumwana West area was hurriedly and potentially corruptly granted to a recently registered company with no apparent financial or technical capacity”.

Argonaut said it’s now lodging an appeal against the granting of the new licence “on the grounds of fraud and impropriety”.