Stocks rise, oil and gold fall as war tensions de-escalate

US stocks bounced back overnight amid reports Russia had pulled some of its troops from the Ukraine border overnight, temporarily easing the geopolitical tensions that have spooked the market all week.

President Putin said he was willing to talk more, but issued a warning that he would never allow Ukraine to join the NATO.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said the prospect of a Russian invasion can’t yet be ruled out.

US stocks rose with all benchmark indexes closing higher – the S&P 500 by 1.28%, the Dow by +0.92%, and tech heavy Nasdaq by 2.26%.

Gold predictably tumbled on the news, falling from around $US1867 to $US1853 an ounce, while oil prices declined around 3%.

Spot iron ore also slumped by 9% to $US136 a tonne as China’s Dalian Exchange announced an increase in the transaction fee for iron ore futures contracts for February to May deliveries in a move to cool down the rally.

Meanwhile, another strong US PPI data (factory gates inflation) overnight has supported the case for the Fed to start its hiking cycle with a 0.50% increase in March. The strong factory costs data has also led to benchmark 10-year yield surging past 2% again.

To crypto news, where Bitcoin gained 4% to trade at US$44,138 at 8am AEDT.

Metaverse investment companyRepublic Realm is changing its name to Everyrealm following the US$60 million celebrity-studded  capital raising, one of the largest Series A funding rounds led by a female chief executive.

Read the rest of that story here by our Coinheader Derek Rose.

ASX 200 to open higher on Wednesday

The ASX 200 index looks set to follow Wall Street higher this morning, with futures markets (March contracts) pointing up by 0.67% at 8:15am AEDT.

Yesterday, the Energy sector shed 3% as investors took profits after the XEJ index hit a one-year peak on Monday, dragging the ASX 200 down by 0.51%.

In large cap news this morning, Santos (ASX:STO) delivered a 39% increase (on pcp) in revenue for the full year of FY21 to $US4.7 billion, while net profit soared 284% to $US658m. Santos also declared a final dividend of US8.5¢ a share, its biggest dividend in 7 years.

CSL (ASX:CSL) delivered a net profit after tax of $1.76 billion for the first half, which was down 5% on pcp at constant currency. An interim dividend of of US$1.04 per share will be paid.


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Prospa Group (ASX:PGL)
The fintech delivered a record half-yearly originations of $315.1m, up 75% on the pcp. Bottom line EBITDA was a record $9.6m, a significant improvement of 134% on pcp.

Nearmap (ASX:NEA)
The geospatial map specialist delivered a record annual contract value (ACV) of $147.7m for the first half, a 28% growth on pcp. The company says the record results were underpinned by its North American operations.

Motorcycle Holdings (ASX:MTO)
The company reported an EBITDA of $19.8 million for the first half, subject to auditors’ review. This was better than the $16m to $18m forecast range, due to strong trading after COVID-19 restrictions eased in Melbourne and Sydney late in the half.

Fiji Kava (ASX:FIJ)
Coles has commenced ranging the Drinking Kava brand nationally in more than 700 locations in Australia this week. The company says Coles will also stock the 50g FijiKava Instant Kava product alongside the Noble Kava extract capsules, and three Noble Kava medicinal products.

Emeco Holdings (ASX:EHL)
The mining equipment maker delivered revenue of $373m for the first half, 16% higher from the previous half and 25% higher on pcp. Emeco has announced a full year FY22 operating EBITDA guidance of $250 to $260m.