At 7.30am AEDT, the ASX 200 April futures contract was pointing towards a “sturdy” 0.3% uptick, which was 100% correct, except for the sturdy part. The benchmark hit the ground running at 0.3%, but faltered early to be down around 0.1% within the hour.

By lunchtime, it had sunk to -0.1%… and it’s enough to drive a man to drink.

If that, and the fact it’s St Patrick’s Day, wasn’t enough of an excuse to get on the cans, then you can drop that on your boss’ desk on your way out the office door this afternoon, leaving you free to indulge in Australia’s favourite St Paddy’s Day activity: Drinking heavily until you get your head punched in by an angry ginger backpacker.

Until then, though, there’s some alarming news from the exciting world of AI – that ultra-powerful computer-thing that will 100% destroy humanity if it gets even the slightest whiff of an opportunity.

According to a report in The Guardian, it’s possible to train an AI-powered voice simulator to sound enough like an actual person that it’s able to fool the Australian government’s super-duper-high-tech voiceprint identification software.

That’s the gizmo that, at last count, more than 7.1 million Australians had registered to use whenever they need to get in touch with Services Australia to find out the answers to Really Important Questions, like “where the bloody hell’s my tax return?”, “where the bloody hell’s my Medicare rebate?” and “how the bloody hell am I meant to live on the pittance you bastards at Centrelink are paying me?”

It’s a biometric security system that is supposed to be tamper-proof, according to Services Australia’s website.

“It’s very difficult for someone to access your personal information,” the site says. “The system can tell when someone is pretending to be you or using a recording of your voice. We won’t give them access to your details.”

That’s clearly a massive lie – but it’s technically correct. It’s not “someone” pretending to be you, nor is it a “recording of your voice”… which is how it’s going to get spun and stop everyone from suing Services Australia when their Centrelink payments get diverted to an offshore account.

The Guardian says that a journo there was able to use just four minutes of audio to teach the simulator to say the phrase “In Australia, my voice identifies me” convincingly enough to grant them access to the account.

The only other thing an attacker would need is the user’s Customer Reference Number. That conveniently appears on a lot of Services Australia correspondence, so all someone will need to get their sticky fingers into your private data will be access to your letterbox, and a reason to get you on the phone and keep you talking for a few minutes while they record your voice.

How could this possibly go wrong?



The ASX opened slightly higher this morning. Not by much, but enough to take some of the sting out of yesterday’s results, in much the same way that old weirdo at the surf club might deal with a jellyfish sting by peeing all over you behind the change shed.

Weird that he paid me for letting him help me out, but hey… $10 is $10.

The benchmark had a decent start to the day, adding 0.3% at open before setting a new Personal Best for running out of puff, and by lunchtime the ASX 200 was down to -0.1% which has knocked the gloss off a lot of people’s days.

The bright news is that the Energy sector has bounced like radioactive coal-black cat, up 1.13% at midday – which is hardly great news considering how poorly it fared over the previous few sessions, but it’s better than a blow to the head. Not by much, though.

Real Estate and Health Care are leading the losses today, down 2.0% and 1.0% respectively.



Wall Street had a solid session overnight, which saw the Dow add 1.17%, the S&P climb 1.76% and the Nasdaq higher by 2.48% – all of which should have done more to help local markets perform better than they did today.

US banks have spent the day circling the wagons, Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports, with the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, pumping $30 billion worth of loose change into First Republic Bank to tame the dwindling deposits base.

But Blackrock CEO Larry “The Fink” Fink reckons there are more bank seizures and shutdowns in the offing saying the rapid rate increases have “laid bare the financial system’s cracks”.

I’ll tell you one thing for free: if the RBA ups the cash rate when it meets this coming Tuesday, I will lay bare my own crack, and then you’ll all be sorry.

In Japan, the Nikkei has risen -0.55% on news that Panasonic has developed a “companion robot” to help lower the nation’s Super Lonely Unhappy Time index, which – apparently – has hit record highs.

Panasonic itself has branded its new Nicobo range has “weak robots”, which I am definitely a fan of – mostly because they don’t do much aside from sitting around looking adorable, occasionally learning a word or two of Japanese and squeezing out ill-timed farts at random moments.



How adorably gross. Just like me.

In China, the Hang Seng is up 0.94% and Shanghai is 0.86%, but I can’t help but feel like those results would be better if China also got in on the useless farting robot fad.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 17 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
ROO Roots Sustainable 0.0015 50% 79,637 $1,039,220
LNU Linius Tech Limited 0.002 33% 2,707,451 $4,844,619
4DS 4Ds Memory Limited 0.055 28% 22,826,022 $63,629,914
MCT Metalicity Limited 0.0025 25% 1,060,000 $7,009,079
XSTDA Xstate Resources 0.011 22% 51,049 $2,893,663
ASR Asra Minerals Ltd 0.012 20% 733,602 $14,671,187
DLT Delta Drone Intl Ltd 0.012 20% 6,732,745 $5,116,049
MRQ Mrg Metals Limited 0.003 20% 2,725,000 $4,964,797
RBR RBR Group Ltd 0.003 20% 400,000 $3,996,012
MDX Mindax Limited 0.105 17% 3,860,642 $179,375,281
NGY Nuenergy Gas Ltd 0.042 17% 75,000 $53,314,398
AD1 AD1 Holdings Limited 0.007 17% 579,829 $4,204,388
ADY Admiralty Resources 0.007 17% 49,164 $7,821,475
FAU First Au Ltd 0.0035 17% 1,199,003 $3,284,350
KCN Kingsgate Consolid 1.75 16% 841,724 $334,193,884
MBK Metal Bank Ltd 0.03 15% 100,000 $7,188,624
SBR Sabre Resources 0.031 15% 35,000 $7,870,127
EMN Euromanganese 0.2525 15% 276,562 $55,464,729
OAR OAR Resources Ltd 0.004 14% 459,999 $8,438,633
BCA Black Canyon Limited 0.225 13% 73,056 $8,968,495
AVM Advance Metals Ltd 0.009 13% 700,000 $4,656,353
IPT Impact Minerals 0.009 13% 2,000 $19,850,964
CLG Close Loop 0.37 12% 191,144 $110,698,988
EM2 Eagle Mountain 0.19 12% 3,362,421 $51,844,367
SVY Stavely Minerals Ltd 0.19 12% 157,454 $55,445,282
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It’s a big, big day for Kingsgate Consolidated (ASX:KCN) today, with the company issuing an announcement to the market screaming “The Chatree Gold Mine is OPEN”.

KCN prices surged 15.8%, building on gains from earlier in the week, after approval to reopen the mine was officially granted by Thailand’s Department of Primary Industries and Mines.

Chatree had been placed on Care and Maintenance on 1 January 2017, after the Thai government decreed that all gold mining activity would cease by 31 December 2016 for some stupid reason.

But, common sense has prevailed, key inspections were finalised and Chatree – which produced more than 1.8 million ounces of gold and more than 10 million ounces of silver before it was closed – is open for business once more, to the obvious delight and relief of KCN supremo Ross Smyth-Kirk.

“It’s a truly remarkable moment to see Chatree open again,” Smyth-Kirk says. “We have always believed that having the mine operate again is the best possible outcome, and I would like to personally thank all our loyal staff who have worked so hard to make this happen and all our loyal shareholders who have stuck with us through thick and thin over the past 6 years.”

There’s been a surge in interest in 4DS Memory (ASX:4DS) this morning, which has pushed its price up 23.2% despite no fresh news for more than a week, and last week’s star performer Mindax (ASX:MDX) has continued its positive run, adding 13.9% this morning.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 17 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
OSL Oncosil Medical 0.017 -45% 32,805,455 $30,821,510
MEB Medibio Limited 0.001 -33% 50,000 $6,225,891
TD1 Tali Digital Limited 0.002 -33% 250,000 $8,325,467
ENX Enegex Limited 0.019 -24% 2,814,904 $4,222,900
FIN FIN Resources Ltd 0.011 -21% 150,000 $7,895,717
TNY Tinybeans Group Ltd 0.23 -21% 128,956 $17,801,782
KLI Killiresources 0.08 -20% 75,000 $3,357,500
KAL Kalgoorlie Gold Mining 0.05 -19% 31,527 $4,800,945
OAU Ora Gold Limited 0.0025 -17% 13,134,399 $11,810,775
ATR Astron Corp Ltd 0.55 -15% 8,947 $86,826,334
PVL Powerhouse Ven Ltd 0.055 -15% 56,260 $7,848,306
VR1 Vection Technologies 0.041 -15% 7,218,322 $54,076,271
CDT Castle Minerals 0.019 -14% 14,903,824 $24,738,846
QHL Quickstep Holdings 0.285 -14% 146,097 $23,669,651
ATP Atlas Pearls Ltd 0.026 -13% 83,000 $12,836,153
RDG Res Dev Group Ltd 0.052 -13% 836,266 $173,106,976
MRZ Mont Royal Resources 0.165 -13% 6,108 $13,011,707
SLZ Sultan Resources Ltd 0.048 -13% 985,462 $4,580,641
VMM Viridis Mining 0.24 -13% 28,520 $8,582,474
CXU Cauldron Energy Ltd 0.007 -13% 85,714 $7,452,544
PRS Prospech Limited 0.021 -13% 23,810 $2,119,166
BSA BSA Limited 0.53 -12% 1 $42,905,388
PVT Pivotal Metals Ltd 0.032 -11% 199,074 $17,081,176
LIS Lisenergy limited 0.22 -10% 5,350 $40,648,976
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