If you’ve ever spent a considerable period of time in a tropical rainforest and have a particular fondness for studying carpenter ants, then the name Ophiocordyceps unilateralis might ring a bell.

It’s a super-weird fungus more commonly known as the Zombie-Ant Fungus – because it infects ants, grows its gross fungusy tendrils into the body and brain of its host, and effectively assumes control of the creature entirely, while eating it from the inside out.

The ants, completely powerless to stop the fungus, end up wandering around aimlessly, as the fungus (which probably isn’t all that interested in doing Ant Stuff) steers the ship and calls the shots.

That’s what the ASX benchmark looks like this morning – a zombie-like fungus-infected insect that can’t seem to be able to make up its mind which direction it wants to go, so it’s been meandering quite pointlessly around break-even since things kicked off this morning.

And speaking of things kicking off, today we’re turning our attention to a protest that’s been unfolding in Germany, where demonstrators are occupying condemned buildings in the tiny ‘historic’ hamlet of Luetzerath, in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The town itself is quite picturesque – or used to be – and earmarked to be bulldozed to make way for the expansion of the nearby Garzweiler coal mine.

This, obviously, is an event that quite a number of people are not entirely on board with, for a number of reasons which are all super-obvious, so I won’t bother listing them out here.

Because the real meat of this story isn’t the impending destruction of the hamlet – a dumb word, really, because the town bears little resemblance at all to a Shakespearian play, or a very tiny pig – and nor is it the slightly noteworthy detention of Greta “The Super Greenie” Thunberg.

Fresh from bringing down the “empire” of the internet’s now least-favourite loud-mouthed horror show in Romania, Thunberg was with a group of protestors that reportedly charged at German riot police at the site.

There were howls of online outrage when news broke of Thunberg’s “arrest” – but footage from the scene shows that she simply got a bit *ahem* carried away.


Peak Comedy, that.

Anyhoo… the real hero of the protest is an unidentified man who has been dubbed The Mud Wizard, after footage emerged of him dressed in monk’s robes, taking on Germany’s Finest Riot Cops and making them look like a pack of mouth-breathing buffoons.


It’s been about 23 years since the internet gave the world a new superhero, in the form of The Techno Viking – but given the speed at which news of The Mud Wizard’s antics have spread, it could be time for a new hero to emerge from the muck and forge his own legacy.

In the meantime, that village they’re all fighting over will 100% be bulldozed as soon as all the hippies have been rounded up – because have you seen the price of coal recently? Sheesh.



The benchmark is positively somnambulant this morning, dribbling and dawdling its way towards lunch and barely making headway at all. At the time of writing, the needle had definitely been moving, just not very much – and the ASX 200 was a measly 0.06% higher.

A look at how the sectors are performing, and it’s pretty much a carbon copy of this time yesterday. InfoTech (+0.89%) and Health Care (+0.88%) are pushing hard to crack through the 1.0% glass ceiling, but the Materials sector is sagging and basically bumming everyone else out, down 0.57% so far.

There’s a solitary Billion Dollar Baby in the charts this morning. Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) has climbed a very nifty 7.1% so far today, on solid news in its quarterly report that the company has had its maiden quarter of net operating cash inflow – which is kind of a big deal.

Telix says that revenue of $78.2 million has been generated through the sale of images of prostates – make of that what you will – and the company has also managed to bring costs down at the same time that revenue has been climbing.



On the flip side of good profit news from Telix is the market-shuddering news that US perpetual money fighter Goldman Sachs has been kicked square in the place it’s been squirreling its nuts away for winter.

Earlybird Eddy Sunarto has reported that Goldman Sachs was the latest bank to disappoint with its earnings, dragging other bank stocks lower, after its profits tumbled by a ball-achingly massive 68% to just $US1.33 billion in Q4, pushing its share price 6% lower.

However. Morgan Stanley narrowly beat analysts’ expectations on revenues as its wealth management revenue soared. The bank reported revenue of $US6.62 billion in Q4, up 5.9% on the pcp.

CEO James Gorman expressed his confidence that dealmaking will improve once the Fed stops hiking interest rates.

At the end of the session on Wall Street, investors were left holding a real mixed bag, with the S&P 500 0.2% lower, the Dow down by 1.14%, and Nasdaq up slightly by 0.14%.

In Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei also had a case of the wobbles in early trade this morning, climbing briefly before giving up pretty much all of the 0.6% it had made.

Investors throughout the region are holding their breath and waiting for news from the Bank of Japan on interest rates.

The bean counters and policy makers have no doubt been bickering like tired, hungry children as talks to decide what the BoJ’s next move will be enter their second day.

Elsewhere, Shanghai is pretty much flat in very early trade, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has dipped 0.4%, because the entire region is just a few hours away from Lunar New Year celebrations.

Over in CryptoWorld, the market there is also largely flat, which is obviously super-boring so we’ll leave that where it lies.

But what is genuinely awesome is Rob “The Freemasons control Bollywood” Badman’s explanation of just how profoundly “special” Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson really is.

Rob’s way better at explaining it than I am (he knows how to write about people like Tucker without getting sued beyond any hope of repair), so go read all about it in today’s Mooners and Shakers… but best do it quickly, before the CIA (or the NSA… or the KKK…) find out that Badman’s actually stumbled onto the trail of the biggest crypto-conspiracy in the world.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for January 18 [intraday]:

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There’s a clear winner for the morning: Riedel Resources (ASX:RIE) has dropped an announcement that has sent its trading price soaring, up around +100% early doors, before settling down to a still-fantastic +62% around lunch time.

The reason is because Riedel got the first assays from its diamond drill program from Kingman Gold Project, USA – and the news is good: Multiple high-grade gold results seen in shallow holes have confirmed earlier RC drilling results, and that Reidel is sitting on a chunky gold deposit, within arm’s reach of surface.

Outside of the Penny Dreadfuls, Godolphin Resources (ASX:GRL) has also brought something special for Show and Tell today – assay results from its Narraburra project, where it’s bitten into some serious REEs.

And rounding out the Top Three for today, Calidus Resources (ASX:CAI) is also getting on board the assay results train today, with news that the last assays from its drill program at the Felix discovery are more of the Good Stuff for the company.

Calidus has climbed 12.7% so far today, adding to some significant gains it’s been stacking on like Christmas Lunch Pudge for the past month or so.

If you’re into reams of drilling results for those stocks, they’re all here in Reuben’s Favourite Ressies of the Day.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for January 18 [intraday]:

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