ASX Small Caps Lunch Wrap: Which tiny town had to call the cops on the cops last week?
Local markets are down this morning, hitting an unfortunate milestone on the way to -0.6% this morning, rapidly approaching the 7,000 point mark for the benchmark, albeit from entirely the wrong side.
I’ll get into that shortly but first, a story from the US that will undoubtedly have every motorist in the world gripping the steering wheel a little tighter, one eye on the speedo and the other on the rear-view mirror.
It’s currently School Holiday Season around the nation, that time of year when most of us don’t have enough leave banked to take the kids anywhere meaningful, so short high-speed long weekend escapes are the only brief bright light among two weeks of doing our best to keep them entertained without parking them in front of the telly.
That often means that the three-day “relaxing” sprint to the beach for a “holiday” means joining everybody else in the rush to be “anywhere but here”, which, in turn, periodically ends up on the wrong side of the law, pulled over by the side of the motorway with a wing mirror full of cocky Highway Patrol swagger sauntering up towards you with $4 million in speeding tickets ready to drop in your lap.
There’s a big police presence during this time of year for a reason – it’s draconian but necessary, we’re told.
But spare a thought for a tiny Texas town where the number of police employed is beyond anything even approaching reasonable, a town called Coffee City, about three hours’ drive north from Houston.
According to local journo Jeremy Rogalski: “There’s not much to Coffee City – two liquor stores, a couple of dollar stores, a pizza joint, and a motel. But this town, which is three hours north of Houston, has quite a reputation among those who drive through.”
That’s because the town of 250 residents boasts more than 50 cops on the payroll, patrolling the streets very heavily, handing out millions of dollars worth of tickets.
What’s even more alarming is that the town is reportedly not real choosy about who those police officers are. Rolling Stone recently reported that the ranks of the Coffee City police have “ballooned with bad-apple cops, who had reportedly received demotions and even dishonourable discharges from other jurisdictions for a litany of egregious behaviour, including aggravated assault and endangering a child”.
Sounds fun, right?
The whole show is (or, I should say, was) being run by Chief of Police JohnJay Portillo – who himself has been accused of failing to reveal that he’d been charged with drink driving on his application to become the boss.
And for not revealing that he didn’t bother to show up for the related court hearing. And the warrant for his arrest that remains unsettled.
The good news is that the town has realised that 50 cops is probably a few too many, and that the Chief is probably not quite the guy to be running things. So, all of them have been stood down pending a review – leaving the citizens of Coffee City without an operational police force, but probably extremely happy that the cops they did have are finally gone.
The ASX has fallen this morning, despite a decent showing on Wall Street overnight, and at lunchtime was around 0.6% lower.
With Wall Street snapping its four-day losing streak, it seems that the Austrlian markets had to look elsewhere for inspiration on how to shed value – but, handily, European markets were on hand to lead the way deeper into the swamp.
The only sector performing better than terrible is Health Care, up 0.6% with a serious tailwind assist from medical imaging company ProMedicus (ASX:PME), with the now $8 billion market capper surging more than 9.5% on news that it’s bagged a 10-year, $140 million contract with Baylor Scott & White Health, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Texas.
The other Large Capper moving today is Qantas (ASX:QAN), which is down 1.34% so far today as pressure intensifies on chairman Richard Goyder to follow former CEO Alan Joyce in the company Departure Lounge.
Qantas has had a shocker in recent weeks, falling from $6.50 a pop on 10 August to today’s low of $5.16 – a 20.6% drop as the airline’s chickens have come home to roost.
In New York overnight, the S&P 500 rose by +0.40%, the blue chips Dow Jones index was up by +0.13%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed by +0.45%, snapping a losing streak for US investors.
Earlybird Eddy reports that US bond yields surged much higher, with the 10-year jumping by 10bp to 4.54% and hitting multi-year highs, on fears over the Fed Reserve’s “higher for longer” interest rate strategy.
And with less than a week left to avert yet another potential US government shutdown, bond investors are fretting over the impact that would have on the economy.
To stocks, Amazon rose +1.67% after announcing a deal to invest up to US$4 billion in AI startup, Anthropic. Anthropic was founded by former OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT) executives, and recently debuted its new AI chatbot named Claude 2.
“AI is not just another technology trend; it is a game-changer. Investors need to pay attention and include it as part of their mix,” said de Vere Group’s Nigel Green.
Shares in media companies Disney, Netflix, and Warner Bros were mixed after union leaders and Hollywood studios reached a tentative agreement to end the screenwriters’ strike.
Nike shares fell -0.3% after broker Jefferies downgraded the stock from Buy to a Hold.
The Nikkei has dropped 0.91% on news that the US Space Force is considering setting up a unit in Japan, because nothing quite says “regional stability” like the United States policing access to the moon from a military base in a country that’s not supposed to have an offensive-capable army.
In China, Shanghai markets are down 0.24% despite Beijing being demonstrably great at crashing stuff into the moon, no matter who’s keeping an eye on them.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng is down because everyone’s busy getting ready for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a time for everyone to take a week off work and reflect on that time China crashed a rocket into the moon and denied it.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for 26 September [intraday]:
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NickelSearch (ASX:NIS) is having an absolute cracker of a morning today, up around 71% at lunchtime on news that the company, along with a team from Allkem (ASX:AKE) has had boots on the ground at Carlingup, and confirmed the presence of spudumene in pegmatite at the site.
The tenement explored currently lies on private land, being used as a quarry for sand and gravel. However, the reps from NickelSearch and Allkem were granted permission for the exploratory look around by the owners and operators, as per the Mining Act.
“NickelSearch is excited to have identified spodumene in pegmatites following our first joint site visit with Allkem,” NickelSearch managing director Nicole Duncan said.
“This is a great start to the technical collaboration between the companies. Given the similar geology with Mt Cattlin, we have agreed to work together to assess the lithium potential of Carlingup.”
Residential property sale data firm RMA Global (ASX:RMY) has climbed 38.5% on no news, other than rumblings that Australia’s headed into its best auction season for quite some time.
Aurora Energy Metals (ASX:1AE) is also up substantially on no news, climbing 25.9% this morning on a markedly higher slab of volume, which is understandable to some degree as the company is one of the few on the ASX that has both of the current buzzwords commodities – uranium and lithium – established on its rader.
Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for 26 September [intraday]:
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