Aussie markets have opened higher this morning, tracking gains made on Wall Street overnight in the wake of the US Fed surprising absolutely nobody by hiking rates again.

The only surprising thing about the US rate hike is that Fed chair Jerome Powell managed to give a press conference that didn’t end up with the market grotting its grundies in the manner we have become accustomed to.

As we headed into lunch, the ASX 200 was lurking around +0.6%, but shaping up to ease in the early parts of the afternoon.

We only have time for a super-quick news bite today – technical gremlins are doing their best to derail everything I touch today – but this story goes out to every parent whose kid has ever done something breathtakingly stupid, because of the internet.

Parents in Mexico are being warned to keep a close eye on their kids as ‘The Internet Tranquiliser Challenge’ craze sweeps the South American nation. And it is every bit as epically, dangerously dumb as it sounds.

The rules are simple enough: Get a group of your friends together, everyone necks a handful of powerful tranquiliser pills  (like, for example, valium) and then see which one of you can stay awake the longest.

It’s unclear what the winner gets – but those who don’t manage to stay awake are reportedly winning a ride in an ambulance, and some very lengthy hospital stays.

A group of 5th and 6th grade students from the north-central Mexican city of Guanajuato are reportedly the fourth set of kids needing to be taken off to hospital for urgent medical treatment, with authorities scrambling to figure out how children so young have been able to get their hands on such powerful medication.

It’s enough to make us all yearn for much simpler times gone by – like the good old days when kids were perfectly content to eat laundry detergent pods.



After hitting the ground running in the morning, the ASX is showing all the hallmarks of another ‘slow’n’steady wins the race’ performance, as the benchmark clings grimly to as much of the early +0.5% high water mark it can sink its talons into.

A look across the sectors reveals that basically everyone (with the notable exception of the Energy sector, down 0.81%) has their nose buried in the trough of positivity today. InfoTech in particular is adding another burst of value for the week, up 2.75% so far today, with Consumer Discretionary (+1.44%) and Real Estate (+1.31%) working hard to catch up.

Among the superheavyweights crowing about solid wins this morning is Xero (ASX:XRO), which has climbed 6.23% on *ahem* xero fresh news. Likewise, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is up 6.63% despite nothing in the way of news.

Up and beaming for a reason, however, is WAM Capital (ASX:WAM), which is showing a 7.4% rise this morning on the back of revelations that sharehholders are set to pocket a handy fully franked interim dividend of 7.75 cents per share, thanks to a positive quarterly report.



As previously touched on, there were positive signs out of the US overnight, after the Fed bumped rates up by 25 basis points in a bid to stop the entire American economy from turning into a gelatinous blob and floating out to sea.

Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports that Wall Street “went on a rollercoaster ride” after news of the rate hike broke, with stocks falling before the slide was arrested thanks to Jerome Powell not sticking both his feet in his mouth for a change.

At the press conference, Powell said ongoing rate increases would likely be warranted, and that policymakers were considering a couple more hikes to get inflation back on track.

“Given our outlook, I don’t see us cutting rates this year, if our outlook comes true,” the Fed chair said.

“If we do see inflation coming down much more quickly, that will play into our policy setting, of course.”

But he gave the market a cause for optimism, saying: “My base case is that there will be positive growth this year.

At the close of day, the S&P 500 was up 1.70%, the Dow by 0.65%, and tech-heavy Nasdaq by 2.55%.

Of note in US tech stocks, Meta gained around 3.0% despite only managing to bring in US$32.17bn in Q4 revenue, about a billion less than for the same period the previous year.

In Japan today, the Nikkei is up nearly 0.4% on news that diners in search of their next fix of whale meat can now rock up to a vending machine to plug any whale-sized holes in their hunger.

Called The Kujira (Whale) Store, the machines have been installed in the port city of Yokohama, near Tokyo, and offer such tasty treats as whale sashimi, whale bacon, whale skin and whale steak, as well as canned whale meat.

If chowing down on critically-endangered aquatic mammals sounds like the kind of lunch you’re keen to try, the good news is that it won’t break the bank, either. Prices for what we’re assured are “delicacies” start at a scant 1,000 yen ($10.80), and top out at just under $33.00 – a tiny price to pay for your own slice of the world’s tastiest “scientific research”.

Meanwhile in China, the Shanghai market has dipped 0.24% in very early trade, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gone the other way, adding 0.61% as the session gets underway.

Over at the crypto desk, market movement is being heavily influenced by reactions to the US Fed’s rate hike, and remarkable optimism seems to be the order of the day.

The overall crypto market cap has climbed about 3.3% in the past 24 hours, the majors are running well – BTC up 4.2%, ETH up 6.3% – and the aptly-named Optimism has surged more than 27% to be top of the leaderboard this morning.

As is normal, Stockhead’s most optimistic pessimist Rob “IT Could Be Worse” Badman has far more in terms of details, and knowledge, to share over at Mooners and Shakers.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 2 [intraday]:

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In the wonderful world of Small Caps madness, today’s standout performer so far is Spacetalk (ASX:SPA), which has soared 63% on news that the company has appointed Simon Crowther to the role of CEO and managing director, effective 6 February 2023.

Crowther got the nod following “an extensive global search”, the company says, with the new CEO’s track record from his time at Nearmap weighing heavily in his favour.

Crowther will take over from interim boss Saurabh Jain, who will in turn stay on as a director of the company.

Also experiencing a burst of value gains this morning is Lincoln Minerals (ASX:LML), after the board wrote to shareholders with an update on Quantum Graphite’s (ASX:QGL) rather cheeky all-scrip takeover bid for the company.

Nothing much has changed in the bid, other than Quantum extending the deadline (again), and Lincoln’s board has pointed out that the offer on the table is basically a textbook lowball.

“The Offer Price under QGL’s takeover bid remains unchanged, being 40 QGL shares for every 1 LML share,” Lincoln says. “As at close of trading on 30 January, the implied value of LML shares under the Offer was $0.013 per share which remains well below LML’s closing price of $0.06 per share (based on the closing prices of Lincoln and QGL shares on ASX as at 30 January 2023).”

That 30 January $0.06 per share value marks an astonishing 750% increase since Lincoln’s reinstatement onto the ASX ten days earlier – so it’s little wonder QGL’s $0.013 isn’t finding much support from its target.

And lastly for this morning, Richmond Vanadium Technology (ASX:RVT) is no doubt smiling about its 15.1% gain this morning, which comes in the wake of a solid quarterly announcement that prompted a spike in interest and volume throughout the first part of the session today.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 2 [intraday]:

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