US inflation data came in at historic highs overnight, rising by 7% year-on-year — the highest level since 1982.

Core inflation also came in slightly above expectations at 5.5%, although the monthly pace of headline inflation growth slowed slightly in December to 0.5% (down from 0.8%).

The market reaction was calm, with no repeat of the bond market selloff that took place over the Christmas period.

With yields steady, US stocks posted measured gains in overnight trade. The S&P500 was up 0.28% and the Nasdaq rose by 0.38%.

ASX futures are pointing slightly lower ahead of the opening bell this morning.

Currency markets also weren’t scared of the inflation genie, as evidenced by a broad round of weakness in the US dollar which lost ground against all the major currency pairs.

Elsewhere, oil prices continued their recent rally following a drawdown in US crude inventories, and the weaker USD.

Crypto markets are bouncing back, with Bitcoin re-testing the US$44,000 mark after briefly dipping below US$40,000 at the start of the week.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Cohiba Minerals (ASX:CHK)
Shares in the copper-gold play were pointing higher in pre-market trade on Commsec, after it provided assay results from the latest drill program at its Horse Well project in South Australia. Results from drill hole HWDD05 “confirm persistence of copper and gold mineralisation in the vicinity of HWDD04”, CHK said, with a “combined length of 185.16m of mineralised core with some high-grade copper, gold and silver intersections” including copper grades up to 10.85%.

Challenger Exploration (ASX:CEL)
The explorer said the first drill hole at its fully-owned El Guayabo concession has confirmed the discovery of a “major gold-copper system” with a 784 metre intersection. “The intersection of 784 metres at 0.4 g/t gold equivalent, including a higher grade core of 380.5 metres at 0.5 or 188.5 metres at 0.6 g/t gold equivalent, is comparable with the results from the Tier 1 Cangrejos gold discovery adjacent to our tenement boundary”, managing director Kris Knauer said.

Akora Resources (ASX:AKO)
The iron ore play said drilling results at its Bekisopa project in Madagascar confirmed high-grade mineralisation near-surface and at depths to 100m. The 68 to 70% Fe product grades are “considered ideal feed for Direct Reduced Iron pellets”, AKO said, a key component of a “green steel future”.

Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN)
The casino operator said its received a revised offer from its current suitors — an investment consortium led by private equity group Blackstone. The new bid values Crown at $13.10, an increased of 60c from the $12.50 bid in November. The Crown board said it now “considers that it is in the interests of Crown’s shareholders to engage further with Blackstone on a non-exclusive basis in relation to the Revised Proposal”.

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:PAR)
The clinical-stage biotech said patient dosing has commenced in Australia for the Phase 3 study of its Zilosul drug used in the treatment of people with knee osteoarthritis (kOA). The global study is recruiting patients at eight sites in Australia with additional sites being added in the US, Europe and the UK, with first dosing in the US expected shortly.