Local markets opened higher this morning, thanks to a steady performance on Wall Street, with some added juice from an upturn in core commodity prices helping the ASX players get their march on today.

At lunch, the ASX 200 benchmark was up about 0.5%, and showing signs of improvement through the early afternoon.

Before I get to the details behind that, there’s news from Japan today which is so Japanese, it almost defies belief.

AT the popular Asakusa tourist hotspot in Tokyo, there’s a kindly middle-aged gentleman whose fizzy drink stall has become a must-see for foodie tourists from all around the world.

56-year-old Atsushi Ogawa has occupied his spot at Asakusa for more than a decade, which is no mean feat, as the battle for space among vendors at the site can get fiercely competitive.

The secret to Ogawa’s successful defence of his patch, however, appears to have finally been revealed – he’s been arrested and is accused of being a high-ranking member of the Yaneya yakuza family.

Ogawa was taken into custody for the outrageously Japanese crime of threatening a nearby ninja (no, really), before attempting to extort the princely sum of 10,000 yen (about $100 Aussie) per month in order for the ninja to do business next to his soft drink stall.

Here’s the soft drink vendor / criminal mastermind Atsushi Ogawa in action – quite possibly entirely surrounded by ninjas, but it’s hard to tell, as they’re well known for being seriously  difficult to spot.

Just why a high-ranking member of a major Japanese crime family is shaking down ninjas for $100 a month hasn’t been explained – but Tokyo today is a city divided, with Ogawa’s supporters claiming it’s a set up, while others celebrate police efforts to get organised crime (and lukewarm Japanese sodas) off the city’s streets.

There’s been no word from the threatend ninja, but that’s hardly surprising – they are known for being extremely stealthy, so there’s every chance he’s actually standing behind you, right now.

Admit it… you looked.



Local markets were given a solid boost this morning by a sudden turnaround in key commodities, with Materials and Energy sectors both enjoying a tailwind as the market got started for the day.

So… what happened? The US dollar weakened, so everything got more expensive.

Gold rose slightly, and iron ore stayed relatively flat – but key resources targets like copper and nickel took healthy gains overnight, up 1.55% and 0.55% respectively.

Some of the more abstract metals went soaring overnight, including platinum (+2.19%) and palladium, which gained more than 8.2%.

However Tin, which has been quietly stacking on the kilos for the past few weeks and flying under the radar a little, retreated overnight, shedding 0.4% – but it’s still up more than 10.2% for the month.

Oil prices also skipped higher, again due largely to a weakening US dollar rather than any other external factor.

All that added up to a market ready to get into Energy and Materials, which it did in spades, pushing those two sectors out beyond +1.0% pre-lunch, and leading the market by a handsome sum.


asx winner Adslot
Chart via Marketindex.com.au


A more granular look at the market shows that the goldies are back in favour again today, and the XGD All Ords Gold index is 1.95% better off than it was yesterday when everyone went home.

The XJR Resources list is next best (+1.14%) and the XTX All Tech index rounds out the top 3.


asx winner Adslot
Chart via Marketindex.com.au


The metals push this morning has driven some solid gains at the top end of Mining Town, with Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) up 5.35%, and Arcadium Lithium (ASX:LTM) stacking on 6.05%.

Overseas, though, things aren’t looking quite so rosy…



The banner headline is that two major economies have officially dipped into recession since the middle of the week – first Japan, and now Britain.

The Japanese recession came as something of a surprise for the former World Number 3, leaving analysts to ponder what caused Japan’s economy to contract 0.4% on an annualised basis.

The argument that is currently winning hearts and minds is that Japanese consumers are to blame, after a noticeable drop in retail areas such as new clothing, and eating out.

Give it a week, and someone over there will have put into action my plan for a recession-busting restaurant where, for 3,000-6,000 yen, diners will be able to nominate and then consume one item of clothing of their choice currently being worn by any other customer in the venue.

First completely nude person wins, and if you manage to eat one person’s entire outfit, you get to take them home for free – all remaining patrons will have numbers painted on them and then raced through the streets of Tokyo.

Call it Doodle Noodles – but spell it Nudles, ’cause they’re all nude. Dōitashimashite, Japan.

Meanwhile in the UK, recession has reared its ugly head, thanks almost entirely to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has tried absolutely nothing to save the economy and is now fresh out of ideas.

To his credit, Sunak has tried to tamp down fears by constantly referring to it as a “technical recession”, and he’s partially correct – other UK recessions in living memory were a lot more violent than this one, which has basically crept into the nation’s bedroom while it was asleep and stolen all the pillows.

But he’s also wrong, because “technical recession” is just weasel words – either the economy is growing, holding steady, or shrinking, and at the moment in the UK, it’s the latter.

Their economy suffered a 0.3% drop in gross domestic product for the last quarter of 2023, on the heels of a 0.1% drop in the third quarter. But it’s just a political bodyblow to the PM ‘cos he’s richer than the king.

In the US overnight, the S&P 500 hit another all time high, after a drop in US retail sales data helped soothe the market’s concern over an overheating economy.

By session’s end, the S&P 500 rose by +0.58%, the Dow Jones index was up by +0.91%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed by +0.3%.

In US stock news, chipmaker Nvidia revealed that it has a stake in the other hot chipmaker, Arm Holdings, worth around US$147 million.

Nvidia also holds stakes in speech recognition stocks, SoundHound AI, and biotech company Recursion Pharmaceuticals. All three stocks popped on the news.

Alphabet fell -2% after a report suggested OpenAI could be planning to launch its own web search tool.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been selling almost 24 million shares in Amazon worth more than US$4bn since the start of February – part of a planned sell-off that could see him dispose of up to 50 million shares by next year.

Word on the street is that he’s liquidating things because he’s got a little bit of a tax problem – but I dunno… his rocket-powered space pee-pees might look cheap, but I reckon they’re up the pricier end of the billionaire toy market.

In China, they are still on holidays  for New Years – so there’s ought but noodly tumbleweeds roaming around Shanghai today.

In Hong Kong, the market is open and has risen 0.39% this morning, climbing back above 16,000 points.

In Japan, the Nikkei is up 1.20%, because of the ninjas.



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

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Adslot (ASX:ADS) is up on news of the launch of a new wholly-owned subsidiary called Br1dge, a New York based tech company “established to capitalise on the significant opportunities emerging with the imminent deprecation of 3rd party cookies”.

Third party cookies are the privacy-invading snippets of code that websites leave on your computer so advertisers can continue beaming you ads for monster-sized sex toys long after you’re done with that part of your browsing for the evening and scuttled back to Reddit in shame.

Big tech is phasing out the use of those cookies – most browsers won’t accept them by the end of the year – but by the looks of things, Adslot (via Br1dge) has found a workaround that will keep the targeted ads rolling in, so… hooray?

The Australian Wealth Advisors Group (ASX:WAG) made its debut this morning, and is currently doing pretty well as the session wears on.

The company, which refers to itself as AWAG, was “founded in Melbourne in September 2021 by a group of experienced financial market professionals as a holding company”, and has a stated mission to “acquire and build upon sound, profitable and complementary Australian financial services businesses.”

The company IPO raised $5 million at $0.25 a share, and a couple of hours after going live today, it’s at $0.305, a 22% gain.

And in third place (with news), Olympio Metals (ASX:OLY) has seen a bit of a rush this morning, after the company advised the market that it’s current diamond drilling programme at the Cadillac Project is “well advanced and ahead of schedule”, with 22 holes completed to date on four separate pegmatite targets.



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

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