The Australian markets opened on a charge this morning, climbing 0.5% at the end of brekky, only to soften like wilted spinach atop the poached egg of commerce that we call the ASX.

As far as breakfasts go, though, it wasn’t all that fancy – the avo, it seems, is doomed to remain un-smashed for now – largely because the Reserve Bank Governer Philip Lowe has told a hall full of conference boffins that a huge quantity of cash money is being hoarded.

(Opening theme music plays, as the camera pans back to reveal a dark, foreboding mountain surrounded by dark, ominous clouds. Suddenly, a massive red dragon appears, spewing flames from its gaping jaws. Screen fades to black – film title appears: “Where’s all the cash, Phil?”)

Lowe was appearing in front of what can only be assumed was an auditorium full of people, utterly rapt and enthralled as he talked at some length about Australia’s NPP.

“But… what’s the NPP?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s the nationwide payment system that was launched in 2018, to make things simpler for simple folk to send money to each other.

It’s called (and this is my favourite part), the New Payments Platform – because at some point, someone will have asked during a meeting “Have we got a name for the new payments platform we’ve built?”, and in a burst of unbridled creativity, someone will have said “What if we call it the New Payments Platform”, drawing approving nods and murmurs from a bunch of people in suits.

But as profoundly fascinating as all NPP discussion is, apparently the real takeaway from Lowe’s address to the e-banking wonks is that Australians, despite embracing new payment platforms like the New Payments Platform, are squirrelling cash money away – at least, that’s what had to say.

During his speech, Lowe alluded to the fact that Australians are still pulling cash out of ATMs, all while rates of cashless transactions are booming. That leads to the assumption that we, as a nation, are stuffing money under the mattress in case we wake up tomorrow to find that it’s the End of Days, or whatever.

Because there’s no other reasonable explanation for why Australians would be taking cash out of ATMs and for it to be effectively disappearing from the economy.

No other reasonable explanation at all…

Lowe also mentioned a surprisingly Socialist take on the cash situation, saying that there are “38 $50 banknotes and 18 $100 banknotes on issue for every Australian” – a $3,700 windfall that I, along with most other Aussies, am very much looking forward to receiving.

But speaking of windfalls that are never going to happen (#ItsAJoke) and other fun stuff, let’s take a look at what the markets are doing and find out if we’re all in the money, or if the fecal matter has hit the propeller again today.



The ASX opened up strong this morning, jumping 0.5% before the toast had gone all cold and gross. By 11.30am, however, things were looking pretty glum as the index slouched back towards Net Zero.

Anyhow, the good news is that the morning coffee looks like it’s kicked in, and at the time of writing, the benchmark has climbed back to 0.3% ahead, and trending upwards.

The main reason it’s not soaring off into the heavens is the grossly disproportionate weight of the Financials caboose, down just 0.46% this morning but still dragging behind the rest of the market like an array of rattling dags on the south end of a north-bound ewe.

Having a corker, though, are Energy (+1.61%), InfoTech (+1.41%), Utilities (+1.21%) and Real Estate (+1.13%), all of them (evidently) breaking the +1.0% barrier on the way to riches, fame and glory, or something.

Riding high this morning in the Big Leagues is Block Inc (ASX:SQ2), trading 8.03% higher and no doubt riding the wave of Good Feelings emanating from the International Convention Centre in Sydney, where the eyes of the world are firmly focussed on the Australian Payments Network Summit 2022.

Also feeling somewhat girthier today is Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN), up 5.73% and turning around a couple of south-bound days, due largely to the remarkably volatile energy market and the Federal Government’s insistence that it start meddling in things again because Little Aussie Battlers can’t afford to charge their devices this Christmas.

Time to look overseas, before someone important reads this and cuts our power off completely.



From the US overnight, Early Bird Eddy reports that there’s some relief in sight for a superheated economy, after headline inflation came in at 7.1% compared to the consensus estimate of 7.3%, ahead of the US Fed’s 100% gonna happen rate hike tomorrow.

“The Fed might not have to take rates to 5% or higher and that is surprising news for stock traders,” said OANDA analyst, Edward Moya.

“Fed tightening is looking like it will just need a half-point increase tomorrow, and a 25bp increase in February.”

That assessment might not be factoring in how aggressively situationally unaware Chairman Powell can be when he faces the press pack, still deeply mired in his post-rate-hike stupor – but we can only hope that he can make it to the end of his address without wedging one foot in his mouth and the other in the arse of America.

In Asia, Japanese markets have risen modestly (+0.44%) as the nation finally gets behind the recent Netflix live action/animation blend series, “Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure”.

The titular character, described by The Japan Times as “the incredible, miserable egg”, has been a staple of Japanese culture since around the time of Hello Kitty, and has been hailed by critics for his incredibly accurate portrayal of “a genderless egg with a sad face and a shiny yellow butt”.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng is up 0.92%, but in Shanghai, things are once again flatter than the lemonade we were all fed as kids whenever we got sick in the ’70s.

In crypto, there is no doubt a bunch of stuff happening – none of it quite as urgently pressing as my deadline right now, though… but head over to Rob “At least I file my copy on time” Badman’s Mooners & Shakers to find out what’s a-happening.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for December 14 [intraday]:

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Outright leader for the day is currently Pursuit Minerals (ASX:PUR), which has climbed about 50.0% higher this morning on news that it will acquire 100% of Trilogy Minerals – and with it, the Rio Grande Salar salt lake lithium brine project, which hosts an inferred resource of 2.1 million tonnes LCE at an average grade of 370mg/Li to a depth of 100m.

Also charging hard this morning is Beforepay Group (ASX:B4P), up 20% this morning on no particular news – so let’s lump them in with Block and thank the payment conference in Sydney for the jump.

And St Barbara (ASX:SBM) – The Patron Saint of Torch Songs – is up 16.5% this morning on news that the $275 million bookbuild requirement for SBM’s merger with Genesis Minerals (ASX:GMD) has been completed. GMD, similarly, is up 16.3% on that very same news.

Music fans everywhere are no doubt ecstatic at the idea of seeing St Barbara and Genesis together, and we eagerly await to see what grand diva of Hollywood’s interpretation of the 1980 prog rock classic, Misunderstanding.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for December 14 [intraday]:

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