US stocks volatile ahead of Fed meeting

Overnight, US stocks swung from losses to finish the day in positive territory at the final hour, as investors readjust positions ahead of the US Fed meeting later today.

All three major benchmarks gained – the S&P 500 by 0.28%, the Dow by 0.29%, and tech heavy Nasdaq by 0.63%.

The CBOE VIX index, a gauge of market volatility, surged to 29.82, its highest in one year.

This week’s Fed meeting is expected to give clarity over how fast and how big the rate hike will be this year, currently the two unknowns that have caused market volatility over the past week.

EV stocks fell with Tesla and Rivian both falling by around 2%. Chip maker Nvidia crashed intraday by 6%, before rebounding to finish the day flat.

In the commodities market, oil prices were down around 1%, while the spot iron ore is down 0.5%.

Bitcoin finally saw some upward price action, and at 8.30am AEDT, BTC was higher by 4.5% and trading at US$36,950.


ASX 200 to open lower on Tuesday

The ASX 200 index looks set to open lower this morning, with futures markets (February contracts) pointing down by 1.29% at 8:30am AEDT ahead of Australia Day holiday tomorrow.

Yesterday, the benchmark index closed 0.51% lower, with the composite microcap Emerging Companies index slumping by more than 3% for the second straight session.

Set to make its ASX IPO debut listing today is Felix Gold (ASX:FXG). The Alaska-based gold explorer raised ~$10m at 20c per share.

It will be a big day on the economics data front today, with the release of December’s inflation rate.

After rising by 0.8% in the September quarter, CBA analysts now expect inflation could grow by another 1.1% this quarter.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Austco Healthcare (ASX:AHC)
Better than expected second quarter revenue from customers underpin an estimated 15% increase in 1H FY22 revenue to $16m, compared to $13.9m in the prior comparative period (pcp). As a result, Austco expects NPAT for 1H FY22 to improve to between $1.45m and $1.6m, a 75-93% increase on pcp.

X2M Connect (ASX:X2M)
The tech company has secured two new SaaS and maintenance contracts for the South Korean municipalities of Gochang and Jeju. The Gochang contract is valued at $1.03m for three years, while the Jeju contract is at $60k for 12 months.

Fonterra (ASX:FSF)
The company lifted its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $8.90 – $9.50 per kgMS, up from NZD $8.40 – $9.00 per kgMS. Fonterra says this increases the midpoint of the range at which farmers are paid off by 50 cents to NZD $9.20 per kgMS.

Splitit Payments (ASX:SPT)
The BNPL company has appointed Nandan Sheth as its new CEO, effective 28 February. A seasoned payments industry executive, Splitit says Sheth brings domain expertise through his work at large payment companies, major banks, Fortune 100 companies and disruptive technology startups across North America and Europe. Sheth will replace John Harper, who has served as interim CEO since August 2021.

Kincora Copper (ASX:KCC)
Ongoing drilling at Kincora’s Trundle Park prospect has yielded more positive results. Three zones of mineralised skarns have been intersected, with assay results showing 36m @ 1.17g/t gold equivalent. Remaining results are due in approximately five weeks.