Australian markets have opened on a dip this morning, falling 0.3% at open when both Energy and Materials woke up with a bad case of the Mondays – a horrible affliction that has continued right up until lunchtime, when the market was moaning about being 0.47% down.

Speaking of which, there’s science-type news that will have Mondayitis sufferers around the world hugely concerned (or not, depending on how they might choose to treat their symptoms), after researchers poured an enormous amount of time and energy to create what is likely to become the world’s single-most addictive plant, ever.

According to a report in New Scientist, Sheng-Xiong Huang and his colleagues at the Kunming Institute of Botany in China have managed to create a hybrid Frankenstein monster tobacco plant that produces coca – which can be turned into cocaine, the powdered biofuel that was used to power the entire 1980s.

Huang and his mates were looking into how it might be possible to get a totally harmless tobacco plant to churn out coca – for science, of course – and it turns out that all they had to do was spend millions of dollars. Hugely wasteful, really – that’s good money could have been spent on cocaine.

Thankfully, however, the team found that by introducing “a couple of enzymes”, they were able to bridge the “missing link between cocaine and a chemical precursor called MPOA”, in order to significantly reduce the number of sleeps between now and Christmas.

But it’s unlikely that the South American cartels are going to be particularly concerned that hobby farmers around the world are going to put them out of business any time soon.

The researchers were only able to get this new hybrid to produce coca at around 1/25th – or 4.0% – of the volume of a regular plant, or roughly analogous to the purity levels of cocaine being sold in Australia. Allegedly.

“At present, the available production of cocaine in tobacco is not enough to meet the demand on a mass scale,” says Huang… but there is scope for the biosynthetic pathway to be assembled “in organisms with large biomass and quick growth, such as the bacterium Escherichia coli or the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

There are no current plans to bring the hybrid cocaine/tobacco to market in a retail sense… but whoever does manage to swindle health authorities into letting them do so will make some serious dough.

Call it something like “ToCrack-O” or “Cracky Tobaccy”, and you’d quite literally have a botanical product that sells itself.

And while we’re on the topic of selling things to make dumb quantities of cash, let’s go take a look at the markets and see what’s what today.



So far today, it’s not great news for the ASX 200, with the bulk of the market’s sectors taking their lead from Materials (-1.10%), Energy (-1.07%) and Utilities (-1.00%) and heading into cooler climes to wait for Spring to get its act together.

Industrials (+0.37%) and Telcos (+0.28%) are obviously trying pretty hard, but it’s quite evidently one of those Monday mornings where no one really feels like working.

To whit: there’s not a single Large Cap making any sort of headway in the Big Winner charts this morning – but there are a couple on the Naughty List worth mentioning.

Those include Mercury NZ (ASX:MCY), the Kiwi mob that invests in, develops and produces electricity from renewable and other – ie, non-renewable –  energy sources. Mercury’s down 5.26% this morning, on news that Hobbits are not quite as renewable as described in the literature.

Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) is also down today, trading 5.95% lower on news that CEO George Frazis has apparently been bounced by the board. Frazis had been with the bank for a rather fraught three-year stint, which included more than a couple of rumoured run-ins with chairman Patrick Allaway, who has taken the reins at BOQ until a new CEO is found.

Frazis, meanwhile, has pocketed a cool $1.1 million and is already off for a shower and an early Christmas break.

And Liontown (ASX:LTR) has softened by 5.88% this morning, as Covid cases in China soar once more, putting fear into the market that China’s “unquenchable thirst” for lithium is, in fact, demonstrably quenchable.

With mass protests in China over the weekend over the CCP’s brutal Covid crackdowns, the market’s just not feeling super-certain about lithium right now.

And, speaking of China, let’s go take a looky-loo at what’s shaking overseas this morning.



In the US, Annual Turkey Day has come and gone, leaving behind results as mixed as Grandma’s prize-winning stuffing. When all was said and done at the last session on Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.45%, The Nasdaq was down a similar amount and the S&P flatter than the average IQ of a roomful of Flat Earth conspiracists.

Early Eddy Sunarto reports that Apple’s share price however was down 3% for the week after the company released a warning that new iPhone deliveries will be delayed by 14 days following protests at its plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Those protests have now spread to other Chinese cities in a rare display of defiance against the CCP – including some very clever use of advanced mathematics to make the point for protestors.

China is trying to prop up its ailing company by allowing the nation’s banks to hold less reserves, while the PBOC (Chinese central bank) also cut its rate by 25 basis points last week in a bid to support the economy.

But… it is also trying to lock people in their homes again, which has – somewhat inexplicably – made a lot of people super-angry, so there’s that.

In Asian market news, Japan’s Nikkei has fallen by 0.48% on news that World Cup stadiums in Qatar have run out of rubbish for Japanese fans to clean up after each game.

There is some positive news for Japan out of Europe, however, with scores of Japanese fans dispatched to clean up after Morrocco’s unexpected 2-0 win over Belgium by resulted in many complete arseholes rioting through the streets of Brussels. Ah, the “Beautiful Game”.

Elsewhere in Asia, however, and the previously mentioned uproar in China is weighing very heavily on local markets, with Hong Kong plummeting 3.82% in early trade, with Shanghai not far behind on a 1.38% drop and Beijing furiously shouting at them both to get back inside before the neighbours see.

In crypto, Bitcoin and ETH crawled into positive territory overnight – but it was Dogecoin leading the way after Elon Musk possibly did or said something or didn’t say something but there was a Dogecoin-shaped hole in what he did say but whatever the reason, it surged more than 17% yesterday.

Rob “The Junketeer” Badman, having returned from a conference in Melbourne, has all the Doge-y action and all the goss on The Hunt for SBF over at Mooners and Shakers – go read it, because it’s entertaining and informative.

But now,  let’s take a look at how our beloved Small Caps are behaving this morning, because if today’s anything like the past month or so, someone’s price will be soaring astronomically this morning.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for November 28 [intraday]:

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Annnnd this morning, it’s Mamba Exploration’s (ASX:M24) turn at the top of the totem pole, climbing a rock-solid 50% since open on news that it’s entered into an option agreement to purchase 100% of the REE rights over four exploration licences covering an area of 561km2 of predominantly broad acreage grain farms surrounding the wheatbelt town of Hyden.

There are several reasons why Mamba’s snapped up the licences, and they look like this:

Extremely high-grade clay total rare earth oxide (TREO) drill sample of 46,716 ppm (4.67%) TREO from 12m in hole 22-018 including:

  • 11,503 ppm (1.15%) La2O3
  • 10,918 ppm (1.09%) Y2O3
  • 2,682 ppm (0.27%) Pr2O3
  • 9,320 ppm (0.93%) Nd6O11
  • 1,561 ppm (0.16%) Dy2O3

Meanwhile, Task Group (ASX:TSK) has shot up 32.1% today on a cracking half-year report card, showing the company’s group revenue hitting $26.6m, up 97% on 1H22  and including $21.7m or 82% of recurring revenue.

The result marks a dramatic turnaround for TSK, and should see it turn a $2m positive adjusted EBITDA, compared to a $7m loss for the same period last year.

The period also includes some big strategic wins for Task Group, including a restructured five-year contract and commercials with major customer McDonald’s which commenced on 1 August 2022, and the launch of TSK’s end-to-end consumer platform with Starbucks Australia.

And rounding out the Top 3 Mentionables this morning, Castle Minerals (ASX:CDT) has climbed a wallet-fattening 28.6% on news that an independent exploration target estimate at its Kambale graphite project has confirmed that it is, indeed, quite large and remains open to the north, south and to depth.

Castle says that one of its four planned diamond core drill holes is now complete, and the company has a 31-hole, 2,460m RC follow-on infill drilling program in the works to better define higher grade zones and facilitate a maiden JORC 2012 Mineral Resource estimate around the end of March, 2023.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for November 28 [intraday]:

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