ASX to rise as clashes continue in Ukraine

Dialogue between Russia and Ukraine ended without a breakthrough and a ceasefire ended overnight, as Russian forces continued pounding Ukranian cities with artilleries.

Wall Street was mainly down for the session – the S&P 500 fell by 0.24% and the Dow by 0.49%, but tech stocks rose with Nasdaq closing higher by 0.41%.

The VIX index, sometimes called the fear index, surged 8% as the war continued to cause market volatility.

Oil and gold rallied again as the peace talk broke down – Brent crude has climbed back to just over US$100/barrel, while gold is trading at $US1,909.33/ounce.

Investors are concerned that Russia’s free-falling Rouble, and a massive 10% interest rate hike could cause a government default.

The Russian central bank hiked its rates from 9.5% to 20% yesterday in an attempt to avoid a collapse in its currency.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin has jumped by 10% in the last 24 hours, and at 8.30am, is trading at US$41,687.

The crypto coin rallied as some investors took the view that Russia’s sanctions could force the country to use more of digital coins as means of payments.

ASX 200 to open higher on Tuesday

The ASX 200 is set to open higher this morning, with the March futures pointing up by 0.42% at 8.30am AEDT.

Yesterday, Australian shares closed 0.44% higher. Energy and Mining sectors were the top performers, up by around 2%, while Financials was the worst, down almost 1%.

Later today, the RBA will convene for its second meeting of 2022. The market is expecting the cash rate to stay at 0.1%.

CoreLogic will also be releasing its housing prices report for February later this morning.

In large caps news, Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) has sold 10% of its holdings in China’s Bank of Hangzhou for $1.8 billion, but will retain the remaining 5.57% until at least 28 February 2025.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Lakes Blue Energy (ASX:LKO)
The Victorian government has approved Lakes’ proposed work programs for its Victorian petroleum exploration tenements. Work is now underway to secure approvals for drilling of Wombat-5 and Otway-1 conventional wells in Victoria.

Close the Loop (ASX:CLG)
For the first half, CLG reported pro forma Revenue of $40.7m, up 22.6% on the pcp. Pro forma net profit before tax was $4.97m, up 67.7% on pcp.

Veris Ltd (ASX:VRS)
For the first half, revenue was $42.6m, up 9.4% from $38.9m in the pcp. Normalised EBITDA was $2.5m before government grants, up 506% from $0.4min the pcp.

Metal Bank (ASX:MBK)
MBK says drilling contract has been executed for the Livingstone gold Project in WA, with drilling to commence in April. MBK’s 2022 drilling program will focus on increasing the Livingstone Project’s resources (80,000 oz Au), adding to the existing Kingsley deposit Maiden Mineral Resource and the JORC 2004 Inferred Resource at the Homestead prospect.

Oceana Gold (ASX:OGC)
Drilling has resulted in multiple intersections of high-grade gold and silver mineralisation at the company’s Wharekirauponga prospect in New Zealand. Highlights from the 2021 drill program include: 39.1 g/t Au and 73.4 g/t Ag over 10.3 metres from 377.0 metres.