Local markets have built on yesterday’s gains this morning, jumping 0.7% at the open before easing a little on the way into lunch.

As I was unwrapping the sandwiches I made for myself this morning – I even put them in a brown paper bag, even though I work from home and live alone, like the angry, beardy hermit that I am – the ASX 200 benchmark had its needle pointing at 0.4%.

The sandwiches, I must say, were terrible.

Maybe I should have hopped a plane to the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan for a feed, because there’s a restaurant there offering an enticing challenge – if any diner can down 108 chaoshous (spicy wonton dumplings), they get the meal free of charge, and go into the running for other prizes as well.

I know this, because CNN is reporting that Chinese authorities have swooped on the restaurant, and are investigating whether the 108 dumpling challenge breaches the country’s strict laws around wasting food.

“Under the law, restaurant owners can be fined up to 10,000 yuan ($1,400) if their establishments ‘induce or mislead customers to order excessively to cause obvious waste’,” CNN reports.

Those laws came into being in 2021, as a reaction to a social media trend where food bloggers (sorry – vloggers) would live-stream themselves binge eating incredible quantities of food.

The trend isn’t a new one, though. It’s commonly referred to as Mukbang, and it’s believed to have started in Korea around 2010, but it’s since spread globally because it’s dumb, so of course it has.

Another Big Win for the internet. Way to go, guys. 👍👍👍

Given the way social media trends work, it wasn’t long before it became a food-gorging arms race, as vloggers around the planet put themselves, and their residential plumbing, in grave danger while trying to out-do the moron who came before them.

Here’s a sample of what it’s all about, courtesy of American food vlogger Nicado Avocado – a “flamboyant” Ukrainian-born American whose 7 million Youtube subscribers have been watching him eat his way to an early grave since 2016.

It’s as hard to describe as it is to watch, but the words “ghastly”, “grotesque” and “morbidly fascinating” spring to mind.

A serious warning – it is an utterly horrifying watch.

 

 

For those of you who don’t have time (or the stomach) to watch it, here’s a quick summary.

The video is 1 hour and 20 minutes long, the first 20 minutes of which is the Youtuber having a horrifying domestic dispute, while the pair of them morbidly chew their way through a teetering pile of deep-fried garbage.

Then there’s a 20-minute blast of improvised “comedy” which is about as funny as being told you have colon cancer.

But, there is a possible plus-size – sorry, plus-side – to all this… when climate change destroys every available crop on the planet next year, and the world goes full Mad Max, it won’t be hard to track these Mukbang weirdos down.

Under the right conditions, they’d provide enough fuel to power a small city for at least a month.

 

TO MARKETS

Local markets aren’t resting on their +1.5% laurels today, piling on another +0.7% gain the moment the whistle went to start play this morning.

It didn’t prove to be a sustainable level of growth, however, with the benchmark easing to +0.4% by lunchtime, and trending lower still.

It’s Energy stocks leading the charge for the day, with that sector way out in front of the market on +2.0%, with the Material mob in lukewarm pursuit on +1.1%.

Unlike yesterday, though, there’s a gaggle of underperformers in negative territory – namely Health Care on -0.46% and the Telcos are down by 0.26% as well.

 

NOT THE ASX

In the US overnight, the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed by around 0.5% each ahead of the pivotal inflation report later today (US time).

“Headline CPI might fall to 2.9% and core could see the lowest reading since 2021, but sticky inflation signs will likely remain,” said Oanda analyst, Edward Moya.

Earlybird Eddy Sunarto also reports that the US market is also anticipating a kickoff in reporting season, with the US airlines first off the rank on Thursday and big banks on Friday.

To stock news, Amazon rose 1.3% as it kicked off its Prime Day promotion day – an event closely watched to gauge sentiment on US retail spending.

Microsoft rose 0.2% as it finally won approval to complete its US$69 billion acquisition of videogame maker Activision Blizzard.

In local news, consulting firm PwC is predicting that one in six asset managers will vanish by 2027, as firms grapple with ‘existential’ pressures.

According to the report, consolidation will play a key role as nearly three-quarters of asset managers are contemplating an acquisition or a merger.

But I reckon the prediction that the asset managers are set to “vanish” means that someone at PwC has bought themselves a new windowless van, and has plans to start nabbing consultants off the street.

If you see something, say something.

In Asian markets today, Japan’s Nikkei is down 0.76% following a sharp increase in wild Tamagochi attacks in all major cities around the nation, while China’s Shanghai markets are edging lower on -0.17% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 1.20% because someone finally fixed the lift, so there’s no more trudging up 800 flights of stairs to get home at the end of the day.

In crypto news, the major coins have returned mixed but not too scary results overnight, but there’s an ongoing “hack” that’s already scooped more than US$200 million, and it looks increasingly like it might be an inside job.

Noted crypto-averse dunderhead Gregor “It’s actually me” Stronach has the details of that, and more, over in Mooners and Shakers.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for July 12 [intraday]:

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

Wordpress Table Plugin

 

At the top of the ladder in Small Caps land today, it’s NickelSearch (ASX:NIS) – a brand new American gameshow where homeless contestants are set loose into an abandoned warehouse full of secondhand couches.

(It’s funny ‘cos in America, you know it might actually be true.)

But actually NickelSearch is really a junior nickel explorer that’s doing very well for itself this week, thanks to news that the company has “once again intersected visual sulphides, including massive sulphide mineralisation, in our diamond drilling program at Sexton, one of our highly prospective targets at Carlingup”, according to NickelSearch MD, Nicole Dickson.

The results from the drilling program show that diamond drill hole 23NDD030 has intersected massive sulphides in the same horizon as a previously reported hit – and it’s big news because it demonstrates the nickel mineralisation find continues 60m further along strike, extending the total strike length to 250m.

As of lunchtime today, NickelSearch is up a satisfying 66% to $0.093 per share.

In second place, it’s Imagion Biosystems (ASX:IBX), sailing up the ladder with a 29% gain, taking the company’s weekly gain to 93% – not bad considering the company has had nothing of particular importance to say to the ASX since 21 June.

Predictably, the ASX has issued a speeding ticket, and got a curt “NFI, mate” reply from IBX.

Something’s afoot… but, like IBX, I also have NFI.

In third place, Everest Metals (ASX:EMC) is up 28% today, on news that the company has drilled into a “DeGrussa Style” mineralised system at the Revere gold project, referring to Sandfire’s (ASX:SFR) Degrussa copper mine in WA, which turns out 1.5 million tonnes of copper ore for up to 300,000 tonnes of high-grade copper concentrate per year.

Everest is also continuing its effort to (sorry about this…) reach the Small Caps summit (no, really… I’m sorry), off the back of Rio Tinto’s sherpa-like (sorry!) determination to deliver on its earn-in commitments, which is why it’s up 225% over the past month.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for July 12 [intraday]:

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

Wordpress Table Plugin