• The ASX is set to fall again on Friday
  • Block Inc crumbled after scathing report from Hindenburg Research
  • Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon arrested in Montenegro


The ASX is set to fall at the open on Friday despite a rally in New York. At 7.30am AEDT, the ASX 200 April futures contract was pointing down by 0.60%.

Overnight, US stocks rebounded on optimism that authorities will do their best to avoid further banking contagion and any systemic risks.

The S&P 500 finished 0.3% higher, the Dow by 0.23% and tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 1%.

Jack Dorsey’s NYSE listed Block Inc/ASX listed Block (ASX:SQ2) was at the centre of short seller Hindenburg Research’s report which accused the company’s flagship Cash App of facilitating crime and lacking compliance controls.

In a report titled “Block: How Inflated User Metrics and ‘Frictionless’ Fraud Facilitation Enabled Insiders To Cash Out Over $1 Billion”, Hindenburg claimed that its two-year investigation has concluded that Block has systematically taken advantage of the demographics it claims to be helping.

“The magic behind Block’s business has not been disruptive innovation, but rather the company’s willingness to facilitate fraud against consumers and the government, avoid regulation, dress up predatory loans and fees as revolutionary technology, and mislead investors with inflated metrics,” it said.

Block Inc said it will explore legal action against Hindenburg as its shares slumped 15%.

Block aside, the mood on Wall Street was mostly buoyant as traders piled into big tech companies. Microsoft was up 2%, while Apple closed 0.7% higher.

Now read: CRITERION: In a wounded tech sector, these 10 stocks are tipped for a profitable year ahead

Ford was down 0.5% after announcing it could see electric vehicle losses rising to US$3 billion this year.


Do Kwon arrested

Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon was arrested in Montenegro overnight as he tried to flee to Dubai.

Kwon, who was at the centre of a $40 billion cryptocurrency implosion last year, was detained in Podgorica after the US Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of fraud and Interpol issuing a red alert notice.

The implosion of the TerraUSD stablecoin he created was said to set off the chain of failures that culminated in the bankruptcy of FTX.

Also, Bytedance’s TikTok CEO Shou Chew appeared before US Congress overnight, but said little to calm bipartisan concern over the video-sharing service.

Chew faced hostile questioning and insisted that TikTok is independent of Beijing and the platform’s headquarters are in Singapore and Los Angeles.

Experts say his four-hour testimony has given critics more fuel to ban the app in the US.

“We came here hoping to hear some action that would alleviate our concerns,” said Democrat law maker Lisa Blunt Rochester.

“I’ve not been reassured by anything you’ve said so far. I think quite frankly your testimony has raised more questions for me than answers.”


In other markets….

Crude prices were toppled 2% as oil bears continue to be in control.

“The key takeaway from the FOMC meeting for energy traders is that the Fed is probably going to send this economy into a recession,” said Oanda analyst, Edward Moya.

Gold was up 1.25%, while spot iron ore slipped 2% to US$118.05 a tonne.

Britain’s 10-year Gilt yield declined 9bp as the Bank of England kept its rate hiking cycle going with a 25bps rate rise overnight.

The Swiss central bank also hiked its rate by 50bp as confidence prevails that the banking crisis has been dealt with.

To cryptos, where Bitcoin surged 2.5% in the last 24 hours to US$28,165.

“Bitcoin is facing major resistance at the US$30,000 level. For the rally to continue, Bitcoin needs a fresh catalyst to break above the US$30,000 level,” said Moya.

Some US$1.2 billion worth of BTC options are set to expire today, March 24, where there is a 1.17 call-to-put ratio (1.17x times more calls than puts).


5 ASX small caps to watch today

Centrex (ASX:CXM)
Centrex has signed a binding offtake agreement with Ameropa Australia for purchase of phosphate from Ardmore Phosphate Project. The offtake agreement is for a term of 2.75 years, with Ameropa committed to purchase 15,000 to 16,000 tonnes of phosphate in the first year with the second and third year allocations to be mutually agreed. Centrex has allocated up to 10% of production at Ardmore towards the Ameropa Offtake Agreement.

Sihayo Gold (ASX:SIH)
Results received for three more holes in the current program at Sihayo, with all returning significant gold intercepts, including: 50.0m @ 7.75g/t Au from 215m in Hole SHDD653. Assays are pending for a further six holes with an additional four holes planned, and results will be used to update the Mineral Resource estimate.

Dreadnought Resources (ASX:DRE)
Geophysical results from the recently completed fixed loop EM survey at Mangaroon in the Gascoyne region of WA have identified five conductive bodies interpreted to be sulphide accumulations. Two of these conductors are located at the Bookathanna North target where the keel of the Money Intrusion is near surface, and the other three are located within the High Range target. First Quantum has committed to ~1,000m of RC drilling over all five EM conductors, which will commence in July 2023.

Stonehorse Energy (ASX:SHE)
Stonehorse entered into a deal with Canadian based Superb Operating, a subsidiary of Proton Technologies. The deal will fund at least one and up to three well upgrades in Superb’s heavy oil asset located in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, Canada. Operations are to commence Q32 of this year, with payout six months from completion and an economic return of 30% within 9 months.

The intellectual property services firm gave an update on its cyber incident reported on March 16. IPH says that it has now established new network infrastructure following a strict restoration process, and key system functionality has now been restored. Under the advice of cyber security experts, security has also been further enhanced, including additional preventative and detective controls to protect the IPH network. All other IPH member firms continue to operate as normal.