The ASX 200 has closed a smidgen higher on Thursday after fantastic Russian reports of a Ukrainian invasion proved a little too tempting for markets that’ve been on DEFCON 1 for about two weeks now.

The Aussie dollar dipped and the benchmark index shed it’s strong early gains, coming off a brunchtime four-week high.

US officials weren’t quite up quick enough to say the news was nonsense, so US futures blinked, as did Asian markets, while crude oil and gold popped.

Meanwhile Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) was the other drag on the main index after a crap earnings report this morning followed by what Stockhead deputy editor Sam Jacobs calls the blue chip cardinal sin, which sucked over 7% of the wind out of its sails – marking CEO Rob Scott’s worst day at the helm since early 2020.

The S&P/ASX Emerging Companies (XEC) was 0.7% lower at the close.

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP WINNERS

(Stocks highlighted in yellow rose after making announcements during the trading day).

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We’re having a baby

Congrats are in order for Carnaby Resources (ASX: CNB) which announced the results of its Induced Polarisation survey, identifying “anomalies of exceptional potential” which it’s already started drilling for at Lady Fanny. 

And Australia’s only listed sporting team took centre stage this morning, as shares in the Brisbane Broncos (ASX:BBL) ripped higher by almost 30% on no news.

It marks a notable move for the outrageously underperforming NRL team, which has been struggling for traction on and off field, notably following the release of a profit guidance statement on February 8.

Lithium is still spiffin’ for Bulletin Resources (ASX:BNR) – which jumped after flagging high-grade lithium mineralisation at its Ravensthorpe project. The gold-lithium explorer today shared some cracking lithium assays up to 8.21% Li2O in rock chips from ‘Big Pegmatite.’

Stockhead’s west coast deputy editor Reuben Adams told me hard rock lithium operations usually produce at grades of ~1% lithium.

To labour the point, Global Lithium (ASX:GL1) says it’s onto a maiden 9.9Mt resource grading 1.14% lithium and 49ppm tantalum for the ‘Manna’ lithium project in the goldfields of WA.

That almost doubles the company’s attributable resource base (Marble Bar project 100%, Manna project 80%) to 18.4Mt lithium.

Reuben says that’s a pretty big achievement for a company which only listed on the ASX in May last year.

Outside of mining news, AD1 Holdings (ASX:AD1) led the pack, after announcing its US subsidiary had signed a “12-month pilot with the US Department of Labor that represents a potential lifetime value of approximately $250,000”

The company said it also has a US sales pipeline “comprising 10+prospects concentrated primarily in the corporate and government space”.

And the Lark Distillery share price has jumped back some 7% today after the CEO resigned yesterday following a viral video and a wee case of extortion. It’s edging up, after a 20% right shellacking yesterday.

And up about 8% is newcomer Firebrick Pharma Limited (ASX:FRE) has been granted a patent in the US for the use of its Nasodine Nasal Spray for the treatment and possible prevention of Covid-19.

TODAY’S BIGGEST SMALL CAP LOSERS

(Stocks highlighted in yellow fell after making announcements during the trading day).

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Yandal Resources (ASX:YRL) is getting whacked by about 14%, we think because managing director and “good bloke/ great geo” Lorry Hughes — to paraphrase someone in this office — left to pursue other interests.

ANNOUNCEMENTS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Critical Resources (ASX:CRR) is now well funded to accelerate exploration at its lithium and base metals projects after raising $12m through a well-supported placement.

Funds from the placement will fund drilling at its high-grade Mavis Lake lithium project in Ontario, Canada, that is scheduled to begin in April.

Noronex (ASX:NRX) is taking copper exploration in Namibia up a notch with a maiden exploration drill at the Snowball joint venture.

The company says it will also drill 10 holes at Hennep to test the prospective NPF-D’Kar contact and previously defined chargeability anomalies.

Besra Gold’s (ASX:BEZ) maiden diamond drill program at its Bau gold project in Malaysia’s Sarawak, is delivering thicker and more consistent mineralisation than anything indicated previously.

CEO Dr Ray Shaw told Stockhead, the intercepted grades are well higher than the current Jugan resources.

National essential power and telecommunications infrastructure services provider, GenusPlus Group Limited (ASX:GNP) is set to acquire Pole Foundations Australia (PFA) for $22 million, ($16.5 million in cash and $5.5 million in shares, escrowed for 24 months).

TRADING HALTS

The following companies went into trading halts today and are expected out in the next few days:

Genus Plus Group (ASX:GNP) — capital raise

Whitehawk (ASX:WHK) — capital raise