The ASX has opened in only very marginally better form than Wall Street’s limp close, not exactly hopping out of bed (like a teenager at 10am) with a spring in its step at +0.034%.

It’s since looking a bit confused – at one point aping its gloomy North American counterparts, the next squeezing out a fraction of a fraction more positivity. At the time of writing, it’s seeing a flat, kinda middling short-term future for itself (+0.098%).

In any case, it’s shuffling along to its end-of-week destination in its own, Mr Magoo-like way.

Also still shuffling but going okay, is famed US investor Warren Buffett, who apparently doesn’t use a computer or the internet and so probably wouldn’t be up on the Michael Clarke news from yesterday. We have it on absolutely no authority that he once watched a few overs of cricket, though, and couldn’t understand why the batters hit so many fouls and don’t try to put every single fastball into the bleachers.

The “Oracle of Omaha” once labelled Bitcoin “rat poison squared” at the peak of one of his most hate-filled crypto-loathing moods. Guess transformative tech and magic internet money simply ain’t his thing, but that’s okay.

We reference that, partly because we briefly mention how Bitcoin’s tracking today, a bit further below in the “Not the ASX” section of this rambling round-up. But also because it ties in with this…

 

Taco Hell

As reported by CBS News and various other US media outlets, a Taco Bell customer in Arapahoe County, Colorado became severely ill a day or so ago after eating burritos that contained a large quantity of rat poison.

The man had apparently been having a bit of a Michael Douglas Falling Down moment, arguing with restaurant workers about his food order. Something about the drink station not working and wanting something for free. He also allegedly threw a burrito at an employee. (Which, incidentally, is kind of the premise for a weird card game.)

Not long after eating four bean burritos, the man began violently blowing chunks (more like sludge in this instance), and was taken to hospital after he somehow managed to dial 911.

“Right now what we’re looking at is if the rat poison was actually put into his food at the restaurant. We don’t know if it was, at this point in time,” said Sheriff Deputy John Bartmann of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t carry poison in the restaurant,” assured the restaurant’s manager Lary Swift, possibly pointing to a menu to clarify the lack of it as a choice of side order. “We didn’t do anything like that. It doesn’t even add up. It’s ridiculous.”

Strange story for sure, but then again, if you’ve ever eaten at a Taco Bell… (predictable punchline incoming) you could be forgiven for assuming rat poison is a staple ingredient used in most of its food.

Onto markets and whatnot. Firstly…

 

Netflix flies low

Any tech stock fans anxiously awaiting the Netflix earnings report might not be surprised to know, it was a bit of a mixed bag, that.

Analysts were absolutely expecting the company to report its slowest quarterly revenue growth in its 20 years as a publicly traded company. That happened – with revenue $US7.85 billion in Q4, down from 7.92 billion last October.

That said, it’s not all bad news for Netflix – subscribers are actually up (7.66 million added in the quarter just passed compared with 2.41 million gained in Q3 2022). The holiday season is, however, traditionally a solid time of growth in this aspect.

Meanwhile, the streaming giant is hiring a flight attendant for its corporate jet, and says the successful candidate could make as much as US$385,000 per year. Netflix says candidates should have “independent judgement, discretion and outstanding customer service skills”.

Probably counts us out on at least one of those points, then. At least, emphasised our editor, who said it “wasn’t worth the pay cut”. What a c..k.

(It’s OK he nevers reads anything he “subs”.)

Let’s check in on the health of the ASX shall we?

 

TO MARKETS

Another quick check of the ASX 200, then, as we move to get this rambling piece out the door so we can smash a burrito sandwich or four.

Yep, it’s still about where we left it 10 mins ago, around 0.1% to the good. Today’s Closing Bell roundup will be a different story. Or will it? Someone else will have to field that one a little later on.

Time to check in with some of the sectors catching our eyes:

Energy is the big individual sector winner so far today, surging along at +2.2% as we type. Materials (+0.71%) and Utilities (+0.56%) are showing some half-decent form, too.

Somewhat lagging, however, are consumer discretionary stocks (-0.81%), Staples and Telecommunication shares (-0.37% both).

A few of the larger movers and shakers in ASX town are faring pretty well today, so let’s quickly examine:

Pilbara Minerals (PLS): +9.33%. The leading ASX-listed pure-play lithium company released a pretty positive-sounding Quarterly Activities prezzo yesterday. Maybe this price movement has something to do with that.

Whitehaven Coal Ltd (WHC): +7.06%. This outfit also has a report out – its December Quarterly. It cites “solid Narrabri performance and strong sales” that have delivered a “record half year financial result despite weather affected open cut operations”.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd (FPH):  The Kiwi respiratory-care focused health company is up 6% today on its positive revenue guidance news, with an expectation for the 2023 FY of approx $1.55 billion to $1.6b. It’s been seeing increased sales of its hospital hardware and consumables in China. Where they’re, you know, apparently mad for that kinda stuff.

 

NOT THE ASX

Traders have turned a bit jittery on Wall Street, and as usual there are reasonably clear-cut reasons for this. Annoying reasons, but reasons.

Davos, where the World Economic Forum is banging on, hasn’t been emanating a great deal of positivity from big bankers, who’ve been conveying that trading positions might’ve been a little prematurely positive to kick off 2023.

Our very own, non-fungible Eddy Sunarto also highlighted the looming “debt ceiling disaster” in his markets round-up this morning, writing:

“The countdown to potential economic catastrophe has begun as the US hits its debt ceiling today.

“Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she’ll implement ‘extraordinary measures’ to keep the government from defaulting on its debt until probably early June, which isn’t that far away.”

Eddy also notes that crude oil prices have been rallying, and gold is up. He can fill you in on it better than I can, over here.

Just quickly, though, here’s how some of the major world indicies are travelling:

In the US of A, the S&P 500 closed at -0.76%; the Nasdaq was -0.96%; and the Dow(n) Jones ended up -0.76%.

Over in Asia, the Nikkei is currently down a quarter of a percent; Shanghai is up 0.49% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong is -0.12%.

Meanwhile, if you care about crypto, like Coinhead clearly does, then here’s the quick skinny on that. Despite what JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon reckons, Bitcoin is actually looking remarkably resilient right now compared with most other markets.

The benchmark crypto is trading back above US$21k again and the entire crypto market cap has poked its nose over the US$1 trill line. Whether it sustains is another question. And people like Jerome Powell and Christine Lagarde unfortunately do very much have an indirect say in that, as always.

Read more about that, and why it’s not actually impossible that the Humpty Dumptied FTX exchange could put itself together to begin trading again, over at Mooners and Shakers.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for January 20 [intraday]:

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

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Juicy chart, this one. Some real standouts, as follows:

Lincoln Minerals Ltd (ASX:LML): This thing’s currently up a whopping 177%. Is it as exciting as that seems? What we can share with you news-wise is this notice of initial substantial holder for Vaucluse Investment Holdings. So make of that what you will.

But our resident resources bloke in the know, Reuben Adams, has way more on it in his resources coverage (funny that) on Stockhead today.

Bass Oil Ltd (ASX:BAS): Up 34% on not much news other than a bit of “what the?” price-query correspondence with the ASX. We say no news, but Reubs has hinted at something regarding some potential Santos Limited (ASX:STO) involvement. Just speculation for now.

Cufe Ltd (ASX:CUF): Another stone-cold winner (+19%) so far today. We defer again to Reubs on this one, and he has much more on it over at his stupendously comprehensive Resources Top 5 column today. Here’s a snippet, though:

“CuFe has today pushed the restart button on the small but high-grade JWD iron ore joint venture in the Pilbara, which shipped first ore in October 2021.

“Prices are now up ~ 50% from when mining activity was suspended, just one year later. CUF says first product is expected to be ready for haulage to port by the end of January and, to protect itself from future price volatility, it is building a hedge book to cover future sales.”

The indomitable Reubs has a couple of other top-performing resources picks for today, btw, and these are: ECLIPSE METALS (ASX:EPM): +24% on no news; and COSMOS EXPLORATION (ASX:C1X): +24% “Some nearology love for C1X in early trade today.”

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for January 20 [intraday]:

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

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