ASX to fall, oil climbs towards US$100

US stock markets came back from the long weekend break and immediately fell from the opening bell.

All three major US benchmarks dipped as the US and Europe began sanctioning Russian banks and elites, after Putin deployed troops inside eastern Ukraine.

The S&P 500 was down by 1.23%, the Dow Jones by 1.42%, and tech heavy Nasdaq by 1.23%.

Oil prices, which have rallied since the Ukraine crisis began, rose by another 2% overnight as Brent approaches US$100 to trade at $US97.17 a barrel. It would be the first time since 2014 that oil trades above US$100.

In corporate news, China has once again made a move against its tech companies. The Chinese authorities released new rules ordering food delivery platforms to cut service fees they charge to restaurants. Meituan, the biggest food delivery platform, has plunged 30% since Friday on the HKSE.

Meanwhile, despite the market volatility caused by the Ukraine tension, Bitcoin has held its ground and is trading at US$38,046 at 8.30am AEDT.

Here’s Coinhead’s roundup of how the cryptos are moving.

ASX 200 to open lower on Wednesday

The ASX 200 index looks set to open lower this morning, with futures markets (March contracts) pointing down by 0.1% at 8:30am AEDT.

Yesterday, geopolitical concerns continue to be the main driver for the markets, with the ASX 200 falling by 1.26%.

Cyclical sectors like Energy and Staples surged higher (up by around 2% each), but all other sectors fell with Tech suffering the most, down by more than 3%.

In large cap news this morning, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has delivered its first ever profit.

For the half, Pilbara’s revenue soared 394% to a record $291.7m, while profit rose to $114 million vs a $21.2m loss in the pcp. After six years in the job however, Pilbara CEO Ken Brinsden announced that he will step down from the role by the end of this year.

Later today, the ABS is set to release the Wage Page Index, the pre-eminent source of information on wage trends.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

CV Check (ASX:CV1)
CV1 has entered into a SaaS agreement with Hireup, Australia’s largest National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)-registered online platform. Under the deal, CV Check will provide real‐time compliance monitoring, including identity verification and recurring screening, to Hireup’s carer workforce via the company’s Cited platform.

Regis Healthcare (ASX:REG)
Revenue for the half from services was $364.2 million, up 3% on pcp. Regis announced a statutory net loss after tax of $3.7 million.

Bubs Australia (ASX:BUB)
For the half, Bubs reported record gross revenue of $38.5 million, up 73% on pcp. It also delivered a bottom line positive underlying EBITDA profit of $1.2m.

Battery Minerals (ASX:BAT)
Aircore drilling activities at the Stavely-Stawell Copper-Gold Project in Victoria have shown broad anomalous copper zone. Results include: 1m at 373 ppm Cu from 25m, and 1m at 458 ppm Cu from 30m.

Marvel Gold (ASX:MVL)
Results of aircore drilling at MVL’s Tabakorole Gold Project located in south-east Mali have confirmed anomalous gold over 600m of strike, the company said. Results from the reconnaissance Auger drilling on the Asgard trend have returned peak gold values of 9.1g/t and 6.9g/t in the north-west of the license package.