Wall Street rebounds as war in Ukraine develops

Wall Street unexpectedly rose overnight, despite the continuing battle in Ukraine that could see its capital Kyiv taken by Russian forces within hours from now.

All three major US benchmarks surged, led by tech stocks – the S&P 500 by 1.50%, the Nasdaq by 3.34% and the Dow by 0.28%.

Meanwhile in Europe, all major indexes fell with the Stoxx 500, FTSE, and CAC 40 falling by almost 4% each. The Russian Moex index crashed 33% while the Ruble plunged to its record low.

President Biden announced swift and targeted sanctions of the Russian economy, and said he will release additional barrels of US oil as ‘conditions warrant’. In all, the West has agreed to sanction Russia’s biggest banks, effectively freezing more than a trillion dollars.

After surging to above US$100 a barrel, Brent crude has retreated slightly to US$99.15/barrel, while gold is still trading at US$1,903/oz.

In cryptos, Bitcoin has rebounded 4% to trade at US$38,445 at 8.30am AEDT.

Late Thursday afternoon, Bitcoin had plummeted 7.6 per cent to briefly trade under US$35,000 for the first time since January 24.

ASX 200 to open higher on Friday

After being down by 3% at 7.30am, the March ASX 200 futures index has rebounded and is trading 1.2% higher at 8.30am AEDT, pointing to a higher open for the ASX 200 index.

Yesterday, local shares closed more than 200 points lower (or 3%), its worst run since we found out what a global pandemic looks like in March 2020. All of the 11 ASX sectors finished lower yesterday.

In large cap news this morning, logistics company Brambles (ASX:BXB) reported profit after tax of $US304.8m in the first half, a 3% increase on the pcp.

The company declared an interim dividend of US10.75¢ per share, while upgrading its outlook with underlying profit growth of 3%-5% (from 1%-2% previously).

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Pointsbet Holdings (ASX:PBT)
Net revenue for the half was $139.1m vs $75m in the pcp. EBITDA loss was $126m vs $69m in the pcp. Pointsbet the loss is due to $78.2 million (US$57.2 million) in US marketing expense, due to increase number of operating jurisdictions quarterbacked by NBC Sports.

Cash Converters (ASX:CCV)
Cash Converters recorded an operating post-tax profit of $7.7m. However, the company recorded a statutory Net Profit After Tax of $2k. Included in this statutory result is the impact of a non-cash impairment expense of $10.9m, and provision raised against the carrying value of certain individual store assets.

Ardent Leisure (ASX:ALG)
First half statutory results improved significantly despite the ongoing pandemic; Net loss after tax was $36.8 million compared to $82.3 million in the prior period.

BirdDog Tech (ASX:BDT)
Record revenues reported for the half of $24m, up 11.3% on pcp. There were strong unit sales growth across converters (+25.9%), cameras (+17.3%) and controllers (+110.5%) on a pcp basis.

Shine Justice (ASX:SHJ)
Total revenue for the half was $105.67m, up 13% on pcp. NPAT was $13.05m, up 30% on pcp. The company announced a 25% increase in its interim dividends to 2.50 cents.