ASX Small Caps Lunch Wrap: Who else is suffering from projectile dysfunction today?
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Aussie markets have slumped today, tracking Wall Street lower after all of the lovely optimism our local markets were showing yesterday got tossed out the window when New York traders got a bad case of the sads.
As we head into lunch, the benchmark is down 0.7%, and it’s almost all entirely attributable to one man – economically aggressive US Fed chair Jerome Powell.
We’ll get into how badly he’s blown things up in a moment – but first, some news out of Japan following a disastrous effort to fire a thing into the sky by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which is called “JAXA” because “JAEA” doesn’t sound nearly as cool to say.
JAXA admitted that it had been forced to blow up its flagship heavy-lift H3 space rocket 14 minutes after it blasted off yesterday from the Tanegashima Space Centre with a payload including an “advanced optical satellite”.
(That’s military code for spy satelite, but don’t tell anyone I told you, or I’ll get into trouble.)
Here’s a video of the H3 launch, which shows two things: First, the $37 kajillion rocket did actually get off the ground, and second, at least one of the news camera operators was severely drunk at work that day. See if you can spot which one…
Anyhow, despite JAXA’s H3 showing initial signs of doing the one thing that it’s meant to do, by getting off the ground, there was an issue with the rocket while it was travelling at vast speeds over the Pacific Ocean.
“The second-stage engine did not ignite,” JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa, said. “Because it is not possible to put the rocket into the planned orbit, we sent a destruct signal to the rocket”.
“Not possible to put the rocket into the planned orbit” is rocket man code for “We had no idea whatsoever where this thing’s gonna land”.
And so, at 10:51am – 14 glorious minutes after it left the ground – the rocket was brutally murdered for bringing shame on its family.
It’s a blow to the Japanese space industry, which is hoping to be a competitive force in an era when heaving heavy things into space is quite the money spinner.
But that market currently remains dominated by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s remaining major endeavour that he hasn’t drilled hundreds of holes in to “find out how it floats”.
It’s not been an easy run for JAXA’s H3 rocket, designed to take over shooting stuff into space duties from that nation’s H2 rocket, which is due to be retired because when rockets reach a certain age, “achieving blast off” can get difficult.
The 67-metre tall H3 was a joint project between JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – which is probably where it all went wrong.
Mitsubishi’s airborne division has a somewhat chequered history, and its most infamous addition to the World of Flight – the highly-capable A6M Zero – is credited with the deaths of more 3,800 Japanese kamikaze pilots and more than 7,000 Allied Forces personnel during the final phases of WWII in the Pacific Theatre.
Bafflingly, the company still exists, and is still building large explosive things that plummet into the Pacific Ocean.
European Space Agency director general, Josef Aschbacher, sent a message of support to his Japanese colleagues, saying he was “so sorry” about the failed launch, and that his agency “stands by Japan, a steadfast partner of ours, and wishes a swift return to launchpad.”
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to send his message of support, but no one saw it because Twitter was broken again.
And, speaking of broken, let’s go look at what the ASX is doing, because everyone around here is far too happy and that needs to end. Now.
Australian markets have opened lower, after Wall Street had a shocker and slumped dramatically because US Fed supremo Jerome “The Wrecking Ball” Powell said some stuff.
We’ll get into that a bit later, but for now, the news here is that we’ve hit lunch time at the ASX and the benchmark is down 0.7%, after sinking as low as -1.0% earlier in the day.
A quick look at the market sectors and there’s an immediately identifiable culprit; the Energy sector is off by a turd-squirtingly massive 4.69%. Holy hell.
That drastic fall is almost certainly due to a price plummet for oil, which dumped $4 a barrel overnight, pulling the rug out from under a number of local producers and explorers – with the drop attributed to… Jerome Powell.
Aside from that, the ASX is actually very stable. The best performer is the Telco sector, up a barely-worth-phoning-home 0.24%, while the Financials sector is costing us all a penny or two, down 0.9%.
Up the pointy end of the plane, Weebit Nano (ASX:WBT) is up 4.7%, building on recent gains following its dramatic fall from market grace at the start of the month, which saw it dump more than 17% over two worrying days.
In the US, Fed boss Jerome Powell sashayed into Congress and promptly scuttled the NYSE, patiently explaining (again, and again) to the thicker-than-pigs..t lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the US economy is a raging inflationary disaster.
As Earlybird Eddy reports, Powell told Congress the Fed will likely continue to hike rates in the coming months, and that bringing down inflation “has a long way to go and is likely to be bumpy”.
“The full effects of our tightening so far are yet to be felt. Even so, we have more work to do,” Powell said, accompanied by the sound of crashing stocks.
“Restoring price stability will likely require that we maintain a restrictive stance on monetary policy for some time.”
By the time he was done talking, the rout was in full swing, with the S&P 500 finishing 1.55% lower, the Dow 1.72% lower, and tech-heavy Nasdaq falling 1.25%, and oil was down $4 a barrel.
Powell knows precisely what he’s doing when he says stuff like this, which means that the only logical conclusion to reach is that he’s doing it on purpose. What a bastard.
In US stock news, EV maker Rivian fell 14.5% after unveiling plans to sell bonds worth US$1.3 billion, but Dick’s Sporting Goods rose 11% after forecasting annual earnings above Wall Street estimates.
Elsewhere, Meta was flat after news that its employees could be bracing for another round of layoffs this week. If the last one out could turn off the lights, that’d be great, thanks.
In Japan, the Nikkei has risen 0.15%, on news that the wreckage of a large rocket has landed on the head of gigantic radioactive lizard Godzilla, which Top Scienticians say was on its way to do battle with a 19-metre tall Gundam robot with lasers for eyes that has been repeatedly incinerating half of Yokohama City for at the past few weeks.
The people of Tokyo, traditionally the target of Godzilla’s rage and home to Japan’s stock exchange, are understandably delighted – however, the people of Yokohama, home of Yokohama Tyres and Japan’s largest tyre fire, are not.
In China, things are Very Grim.
And thing aren’t great on Chinese markets, either, with Shanghai falling 0.33% at open, and the wildly volatile Hang Seng dipping 2.35% in early trade.
*sigh* Honestly I’m too good for this place. How did it come to this?
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 8 [intraday]:
Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:
In our little corner of the madness that is the market, the Small Caps winner for the morning is healthcare minnow Bionomics (ASX:BNO), which is shaping up to be an interesting story.
Bionomics shot up 33.3% in exactly 48 minutes this morning – we know that, because it went into a trading halt at 10:48am (after it’s very rapid rise), telling the ASX that it’s got an announcement “in relation to the full results analysis from the PREVAIL Phase-2 Study of BNC210”.
The study is looking into whether BNC210 is effective in treating Social Anxiety Disorder, as the drug is a “selective negative allosteric modulator of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor”.
That’s Science for “it’s a sedative that works like popping a Xanax, but without making you sleepy or developing a craving to eat tons and tons more Xanax every day for the rest of your life”.
Meanwhile, Summit Minerals (ASX:SUM) is up 30.7% this morning after revealing some solid proof-of-concept drilling results at its Stallion REE project in Western Austraila, which look like this:
It’s a great result for Summit, which has been snapping up more and more ground around Stallion for the past little while, with its focus on REE exploration – and one careful eye on the potential of the high uranium content of the surrounding “hot granites” within the project, in the hope that the WA government will eventually reverse its 2017 ban on uranium mining in the state.
And last one for the morning is mighty mighty Mindax (ASX:MDX), which is rapidly becoming the poster child for “How to come back from an ASX suspension with a bang”.
Mindax rejoined the Land of the Living on 1 March – a week ago, for those who can’t see a calendar from where you’re sitting – and since then has climbed 77.9%, aided by this morning’s 28% blast off.
Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 8 [intraday]:
Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort: