The recent thawing of relations between Australia and China makes for a tidy little backdrop to this morning’s brief foray into the world of not-money news, because it involves what is becoming a chilling mystery for some, and a source of stone-cold concern for others.

The reason: A Chinese food manufacturing company called Chicecream (that’s not an appallingly racist joke, we swear) has developed an ice cream that it says is set to take on the likes of worldwide, premium Cold Stuff on a Stick champions Magnum.

Chicecream is a famous premium brand in Asia, earning itself the nickname “Hermes of ice cream”, which we think is a reference to the famous high-end fashion and smelly-squirt cologne brand.

If it’s not, then someone’s having a laugh, because Hermes the Olympian deity is known for being the protector of human heralds (journos), travellers (vagrants), merchants (shonky business owners) and thieves and orators (politicians).

Anway – Chicecream and its premium ice cream products have come under fire, as in literally under fire, from critics because the ice cream doesn’t melt. Even if it’s left in the sun for an hour.

Here’s some video “proof” – I’ve skipped forward to the good bit:

Consumers throughout Asia are in equal parts super-angry, and clearly baffled. Angry because the premium product is, by any reasonable measure, insanely expensive, priced at a savings-shredding 66 yuan – about $15 in real money.

And baffled by the apparent Dark Arts wizardry at work – and more than a few people have suggested that there might be “something other than ice cream” clinging to the Chicecream sticks.

Chicecream has, of course, strenuously denied claims that its product might contain common fire resistant substances like asbestos, or concrete – possibly because they’re not edible.

Vermiculite, on the other hand… nah – surely Asia isn’t being sold sub-zero powdered minerals on a stick?

It’s not an unreasonable line of thought, as China has a long and glorious history of manufacturing counterfeit food, including eggs made of “resin, coagulant and starch”. Yum yum.

 

TO MARKETS

Aussie markets got off to a cranking start first thing this morning, waxing like a Gold Coast surfie, before waning like absolutely everyone’s interest in Gotye’s career.

At the time of writing, the benchmark had dribbled slowly down from the morning’s highs to sit tremulously around 0.2% on yesterday’s close.

Across the sectors, there were some standout performers, namely Utilities (+1.4%) and Energy (+0.8%). Consumer Staples also bounced from yesterday’s low-effort results, adding 1.0%, while its kissing cousin Discretionary stayed in bed.

InfoTech (-0.7%) and Telcos (-0.6%) were the worst performers prior to lunch, while Materials weighed again on softening commodity prices, dipping 0.3%.

Warm and snug in the fully-catered corporate boxes, the winners this morning were Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), which added to yesterday’s modest gains with a 4.0% surge, after Dimensional snapped up a 5.08% chunk of the coal miner.

Also rising sharply this morning was coal miner New Hope (ASX:NHC), which built on gains that kicked off last session, on the back of a positive broker upgrade. New Hope was up more than 5.5% and still climbing as the lunch bell rang.

Big losers among the Big Kids were Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) after a mineral Resource Estimate increased by 28% to 18.9Mt @ 1.32% Li2O, and a measured and indicated mineral resource increase by 61% to 13.3Mt @ 1.40% Li2O failed to excite inventors.

Joining Core Lithium in its fall from financial grace was health tech Imugene (ASX:IMU), which fell from recent highs it achieved with a change of leadership at the start of July.

Core was 6.5%, and Imugene fell 7.5%. As James Reyne famously (and incomprehensibly) once sang, it’s not a very happy way to start the day.

 

NOT THE ASX

Overseas, and things in the US just keep on looking crappy. The Nasdaq fell 2.26% overnight, with the S&P (-1.15%) and the Dow (-0.52%) following suit, as US investors struggle to make sense of a stream of economic data that appears to be pulling the US in two directions at once.

In Asia, thing were also a bit grim. The Nikkei was down 1.75% and Hong Kong shares fell 0.66%. Chinese shares, just like their ice cream, didn’t join in the mini-meltdown, staying relatively steady, down just 0.2% for the morning.

Comodities had a pretty wild story to tell, with oil down by 1.11% and natural gas up 1.28%. Gold inched down (-0.1%), silver inched up (+0.1%) and copper put on nearly 0.5% to head into lunch the happiest of the metal heads.

And, lastly, in a small piece of Forex ephemera, the Euro and the US Dollar are within a penny of parity, for the first time in 20 years.

Should the two currencies reach actual parity, astrological scholars say the confluence of currencies will usher in The Age of Pecunius.

According to the Ancient Scrolls, The Age of Pecunius will see the streets flooded with naked, long-haired finance hippies, singing songs about “Free Love” and promising to knock 0.7% off your credit card interest if you join their commune.

 

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:

Code Company Last % Market Cap
RMY RMA Global 0.17 62% $50,332,762
1ST 1St Group Ltd 0.007 40% $6,440,869
ATU Atrum Coal Ltd 0.008 33% $4,148,210
BRX Belararox Ltd 0.48 20% $11,332,008
LNU Linius Tech Limited 0.006 20% $9,797,582
PVE Po Valley Energy Ltd 0.069 17% $63,079,463
ZLD Zelira Therapeutics 1.8 17% $14,748,759
VKA Viking Mines Ltd 0.007 17% $6,151,551
PLG Pearl Gull Iron 0.058 16% $2,745,115
RNO Rhinomed Ltd 0.15 15% $37,143,560
FGL Frugl Group Limited 0.015 15% $2,620,150
88E 88 Energy Ltd 0.0115 15% $166,102,074
FLX Felix Group 0.195 15% $22,573,242
CXU Cauldron Energy Ltd 0.008 14% $3,747,879
RBX Resource B 0.12 14% $4,302,532
PEC Perpetual Res Ltd 0.041 14% $17,717,423
TRP Tissue Repair 0.265 13% $10,993,383
BTC BTC Health Ltd 0.045 13% $11,273,854
AXP AXP Energy Ltd 0.0045 13% $23,248,723
NZS New Zealand Coastal 0.0045 13% $4,108,020
IME Imexhs Limited 0.655 12% $19,223,620
NSX NSX Limited 0.047 12% $11,877,370
NKL Nickelxltd 0.145 12% $8,073,000
SBW Shekel Brainweigh 0.11 11% $18,428,244
HAR Haranga Resources 0.155 11% $5,853,963

 

Killin’ it among the Small Caps this morning was a rocket ride for comms company Rma Global (ASX:RMY), which shot up by a scarecely-believable 66.7% on absolutely no visible news, so… hooray, we suppose.

Climbing higher (obvious joke is obvious) was medicinal cannabis company Zelira Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD), which added a very healthy 27% jump to $1.95, nearly twice its price from a week ago.

Also adding some fattening, creamy goodness to the wallets of investors were Po Valley Energy (ASX:PVE), up 17% and the Mystery Men of Iron, Pearl Gull (ASX:PLG) put on 16%, because apparently it just does that sometimes.

Losing their lunch money this morning, however, was Sezzle (ASX:SZL), after the payment company coughed up a 34% chunk of the gains it made in the wake of UBS talking up the BNPL sector last week.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

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

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