Local markets opened higher this morning, buoyed by positive sentiment from the US tech sector, which was easy to pinpoint because the rest of the US market is knocking its knees together in fear as debt ceiling negotiations continue to approach a pretty horrendous deadline.

The ASX 200 has peaked a couple of times this morning around the 0.2-0.3% region, to arrive at the lunch break at +0.19%. It’s a small win, but we’ll take it – and I’ll dig into the reasons why shortly.

But first, to our neighbours across The Ditch, where startling news has the entire nation of New Zealand feeling on edge and highly concerned about their future, leaving the NZSX down 0.21% at midday, their time.

The reason? For the first time since the 1850s (which was ages ago, according to my calendar), the ratio of sheep to humans in New Zealand has officially dropped below 5:1.

It was first feared that the cause of the issue was the aggressively unpopular Australian government policy of sending any Kiwis convicted of a major crime back to New Zealand, causing a massive population spike.

But it turns out that there’s simply been a steep drop in the number of sheep, possibly due to a string of mysterious murders that have left investigators sickened, as many of the corpses are being eaten by whoever is responsible for the killings.

Stats NZ’s new Agricultural Production Census for 2022 says that “the national flock dropped two percent on the year before, to 25.3 million sheep in June 2022”.

Now, at first glance it might seem that Stats NZ is a little on the tardy side, releasing June 2022 figures a few days out from June 2023, but – in its defence – the small army of people it sent out to individually tally up the sheep were on a hiding to nothing getting the task done.

They were dealing with a large number of animals that:

  1. All look the same,
  2. Move around an annoying amount, and
  3. Quite famously put anyone trying to count them into a deep, deep slumber.

Hence, it’s taken them a year to count New Zealand’s Official Ambulatory Vegetation, leaving at least 19 very dedicated workers in comas so deep, they might never wake up.

The report also stated that there’s been a sharp decline in the number of cattle in New Zealand, with the National Dairy Cow Herd falling from historic highs, down 8% to 6.1 million.

Most of that is being explained away by officials as a combination of UFO/UAP abductions and/or mutilations, and just a growing distaste for bovines in general, because of how big and dumb they are.

New Zealanders have finally figured out that dairy cows make terrible pets, which often crush their owners while trying to climb onto their lap during TV time, and – unless diligently  cared for every single day – have a tendency to walk into bedrooms and other quiet spaces in the house and spray milk everywhere to mark their territory, like a wolf.

But there is some good news, especially for people who like their fruit fuzzy, shaped like a diseased testicle and tasting like cellophane dipped in the tears of a clown.

NZ’s largest horticultural export by value – which is, obviously, Kiwifruit – has risen in volume thanks to an increase in acreage set aside to plant the flightless bird that produce the fruit.

The amount of land now set aside for production has soared 154 per cent to 7800ha, (roughly half the North Island) over the last decade.

I did reach out to the New Zealand Department of Agriculture for comment, but all four of them were apparently out of the office until mid-June, cutting up enough oranges to keep the All Blacks fed at half time for the rest of the season.

And there you have it, folks… an entire story about New Zealanders and sheep, and not a single mention of how much they love to shag them.

Marvellous stuff, that. Just marvellous.



Closer to home, local markets have opened higher this morning, surging 0.3% in the first 25 minutes or so before easing to +0.19% as the nation unwrapped its corned beef and yellow pickle sandwiches. Yum.

A look at the sectors this morning shows that InfoTech is doing most of the heavy lifting with a market-busting 1.30% jump, while Energy (+0.7%), Financials (+0.61%) and Real Estate (+0.54%) are enjoying a day in the sun.

Lagging, however, is Consumer Staples on -0.44%, while Utilities, Materials and Industrials are pretty much flat across the board.

Up in the fancy seats, Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) is up about 6.0% on no real news, aside from the appointment of Lesley Adams as independent non-executive director yesterday.



In the US overnight, Wall Street was mixed as President Biden and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy were set to meet after the markets closed. The S&P 500 finished flat, the Dow Jones was lower by -0.42%, while tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed +0.5%.

Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports that US traders instead looked to comments from Fed Reserve members for direction, with noted hawk St Louis Fed President James Bullard saying he reckons the central bank will hike rates twice more this year.

“I’m thinking two more moves this year – exactly where those would be this year I don’t know – but I’ve often advocated sooner rather than later,” Bullard said through a mouthful of freshly-grated poor people.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said a pause in rate hikes doesn’t mean the central bank is done with hiking.

“If we were to skip in June that does not mean we’re done with our tightening cycle,” he said, perched atop a throne made of unemployed worker skulls. “It means to me we’re getting more information.”

“Do we then start raising again in July, potentially?” Kashkari then asked nobody in particular, his voice trailing off as he appeared deeply engrossed in something on the ceiling that no one else could see.

I fear we might never have an answer.

In US stock news, the Nasdaq’s lift was off the back of strong finishes by Alphabet (+2%) and Meta (+1%).

However chip maker Micron Technology fell 2% after China pulled the most transparently obvious tit-for-tat ban I’ve seen in quite some time, accusing Micron’s products of posing “serious network security risks” – just like Huawei and TikTok, I guess.

Small cap investment bank Greenhill & Co surged by 116% after Mizuho said it will acquire the bank, and Pfizer surged over 5% after its diabetes drug resulted in similar weight loss level to that of Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic’s drug.

So the US can look forward to the howls of impotent rage from diabetics who need the drug, when supplies are hoarded by wealthy fatties who think that getting rid of their Dependapotamus saddlebags is far more important than keeping poor people alive. #GodBlessMurica.

In Japan, the Nikkei is up 0.76% on news that the anti-piracy movement there has taken a huge leap forward in its attempts to stop content thieves from “robbing artists and studios of their rightful earnings”, as the old saying goes.

In Japan, movies in theaters are often preceded by a message from the No More Eiga Dorobo (No More Movie Thieves) project – Japan’s equivalent of the classic “you wouldn’t download a car” messages that have caused much mirth for generations of cynical Westerners.

Now, as part of that project, two new fragrances (because “Japan”) have been released, with consumers offered the choice of smelling like either the Bad Guy – called “Camera Man” – or the Good Guy, known as “Patrol Lamp Man”.



For anyone wishing to smell like our hero, Patrol Lamp Man, they can look forward to top notes of cardamom, elemi and citrus, with middle notes of jasmine, lily of the valley and precious wood, with a lingering white musk, smokey notes and amber finish.

For the rebels among us, the bad guy Camera Man perfume carries top notes of geranium, cardamom, lavender, chypre, middle notes of rose, clove and iris, with a sweeping finish of sandalwood, patchouli and powdery musk – along with the unmistakable stench of having a massive monetary penalty dragged out via the anus.

Meanwhile in China, Shanghai markets are down 0.24%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 0.41%.

In CryptoLand, Bitcoiners have been busy celebrating Bitcoin Pizza Day, in honour of the idiot who once spent 10,000 BTC buying two Papa John’s pizzas, back when Bitcoin was far closer to what it’s actually (realistically speaking) worth.

In today’s crypto environment, that works out to be a little over US$260 million.

And people wonder why I am so deeply, deeply cynical about it.

Rob “That’s-a Spicy Meatballs” Badman has that, and the rest of the crypto news, over at Mooners & Shakers.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for May 23 [intraday]:

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

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
WSR Westar Resources 0.088 76% 39,185,938 $5,559,711
AQX Alice Queen Ltd 0.0015 50% 2,530,458 $2,530,288
RTG RTG Mining Inc. 0.0795 35% 7,036,706 $46,980,242
GMN Gold Mountain Ltd 0.004 33% 1,500,000 $5,909,798
LNU Linius Tech Limited 0.004 33% 1,261,111 $10,767,075
SIH Sihayo Gold Limited 0.0025 25% 1,250,000 $12,204,256
GTG Genetic Technologies 0.003 20% 3,398,603 $28,854,145
AWJ Auric Mining 0.061 20% 155,702 $6,673,839
OFX OFX Group Ltd 1.8275 19% 1,487,340 $375,143,184
PRS Prospech Limited 0.045 18% 8,853,386 $8,294,554
BTC BTC Health Ltd 0.02 18% 40,025 $4,791,388
ADX ADX Energy Ltd 0.007 17% 778,525 $21,207,748
AL8 Alderan Resource Ltd 0.007 17% 21,428 $3,700,168
OAU Ora Gold Limited 0.0035 17% 12,277,345 $11,810,775
SI6 SI6 Metals Limited 0.007 17% 200,000 $8,972,368
TMX Terrain Minerals 0.007 17% 10,092,450 $6,499,196
DBO Diabloresources 0.044 16% 52,131 $2,755,000
AKO Akora Resources 0.185 16% 237,203 $11,550,434
RNX Renegade Exploration 0.015 15% 4,603,048 $12,325,609
SES Secos Group Ltd 0.055 15% 709,067 $28,487,072
BAT Battery Minerals Ltd 0.004 14% 1,000,235 $11,749,298
FAU First Au Ltd 0.004 14% 125,000 $5,081,976
MTM MTM Critical Metals 0.125 14% 2,754,968 $9,719,331
PFT Pure Foods Tas Ltd 0.15 13% 336,974 $14,540,539
LVH Livehire Limited 0.069 13% 500,000 $20,776,658
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The pre-lunch winner this morning is market darling Westar Resources (ASX:WSR), which soared 76% this morning, flying high enough to catch the eye of the ASX Watch Dogs and earning itself a speeding ticket.

Westar was climbing very quickly despite not offering any news to the market, so the ASX yanked on the handbrake at 11:27am, no doubt issuing a Please Explain as it tries to figure out if there’s something that some people know that the rest of us don’t… so, stay tuned.

Next best (and still trading) is RTG Mining (ASX:RTG), which has added a solid 28.1% this morning on the back of an after-hours announcement to the market that landed right in the middle of dinner time.

The announcement says that RTG has reached a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues with the Villar Family-controlled Sage Capital and TVI Resource Development (TVIRD), and a binding Memorandum of Agreement signed.

Under the deal, “all litigation that RTG had launched will be withdrawn as part of an agreed restructuring of the Mabilo Project”, and execution of the agreement is expected to take place in the next month or so.

The key terms of the agreement include RTG (through SRM Gold Limited) retaining a 40% interest in Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation (“Mt. Labo”) with the project also developed by Mt. Labo, in line with Philippine regulatory requirements, with Sage Capital (which is owned by TVIRD) holding the remaining 60%.

RTG will have a 2% net smelter royalty (NSR), and RTG’s debt together with interest, currently in the order of US$27m (subject to audit) will be repaid out of the proceeds of Stage 1, the direct shipping portion of the project.

Closing out the top three, Prospech (ASX:PRS) is up 18.4% on no news, which is great because making sense of all that stuff about RTG has left me severely out of breath and in need of a lie down.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for May 23 [intraday]:

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

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
PYR Payright Limited 0.005 -50% 26,051 $8,808,852
IS3 I Synergy Group Ltd 0.007 -30% 5,000 $2,890,804
GES Genesis Resources 0.005 -29% 150,000 $5,479,889
TYM Tymlez Group 0.005 -29% 27,970,940 $7,645,367
PUA Peak Minerals Ltd 0.003 -25% 2,410,060 $4,165,506
WEL Winchester Energy 0.003 -25% 100,000 $4,081,688
AJL AJ Lucas Group 0.016 -20% 2,400,774 $27,514,593
AW1 Americanwestmetals 0.058 -17% 5,824,623 $18,264,758
BRN Brainchip Ltd 0.425 -17% 14,694,633 $901,199,654
ENT Enterprise Metals 0.005 -17% 488,814 $4,230,484
GNM Great Northern 0.0025 -17% 5,128,272 $6,408,941
IPT Impact Minerals 0.011 -15% 7,421,786 $36,981,151
NNL Nordicnickellimited 0.225 -15% 65,254 $15,491,901
FG1 Flynngold 0.065 -14% 144,275 $7,818,389
GED Golden Deeps 0.006 -14% 2,000,050 $8,086,587
MXO Motio Ltd 0.03 -14% 57,609 $9,150,213
PXX Polarx Limited 0.012 -14% 729,711 $18,954,742
MLS Metals Australia 0.04 -13% 7,959,064 $27,923,665
AOA Ausmon Resorces 0.0035 -13% 200,000 $3,877,157
RRR Revolverresources 0.11 -12% 184,048 $13,918,638
TEE Topendenergylimited 0.185 -12% 8,190 $9,352,875
JXT Jaxstaltd 0.046 -12% 196,492 $18,460,518
IXU Ixup Limited 0.039 -11% 15,000 $45,561,678
COD Coda Minerals Ltd 0.24 -11% 938,685 $38,285,393
CZR CZR Resources Ltd 0.16 -11% 263,020 $42,432,236
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