Aussie markets opened higher this morning, following a decent turnout for Wall Street overnight. The benchmark ASX 200 was up 0.8% at open, settling to a more sedate 0.65% at lunch time.

There’s more to the story of course, but first, we need to head to the United States, and talk about real estate.

Yep – that interminable topic that’s been the mainstay of forced ‘couples who barely know each other’ backyard BBQ conversations for decades in Australia.

A recent auction in Manhattan is the topic today, so this won’t be a whinge about local property prices, I promise.

Although they are utterly appalling, especially in Sydney. Just last week, I saw a young couple get into a fistfight with an old man pushing a shopping cart full of aluminium cans, over who owns the bin where the old guy likes to sleep. Brutal.

But today’s story takes place in New York City, where the landmark Flatiron Building went under the hammer recently, attracting some of the area’s wealthiest investors out from their cockroach nests to put in a bid to own one of the most eye-catching buildings on the island.

It’s mostly famous because of its iconic triangular shape – a towering testament to the fact that both nature and real estate developers abhor a vacuum.

The city’s famous grid-pattern streets make it very easy to navigate, and to build normal-shaped skyscrapers for recently-indicted former US Presidents to use other people’s money to stick their names all over.

But when the city’s planners were done making everything nice and square, they were left with the problem of Broadway, which has – for some reason – always resisted the very notion of being straight.

It runs diagonally from Union Square to Madison Square Garden, where Rowdy Roddy Piper famously kicked ’80s pop sensation Cyndi Lauper in the head in 1984.



As a result, town planners were left with a weird triangular block at the junction of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and no idea what to put there.

Architects Daniel Burnham and the delightfully-named Frederick P. Dinkelberg stepped up to the challenge, and in a classic “hold my beer” moment, one of the most photographed buildings in the world was born.

When it came up for sale this week, it was always going to be one of those auctions that gets watched very closely, and as it turned out, the two top bidders got into it quite aggressively.

Bidding started at a very reasonable US$50 million, but quickly spiralled out of control as property young gun Brad Garlick took on a clearly heavily-sedated Judd Hirsch.


asx winner Hubify
Judd Hirsch In A Coma and A Bearded Egg battle it out to own NYC’s famous Flatiron building. That is 100% not me in the middle of the photo, by the way. I promise. Pic via Getty Images.


Sorry… I’ve been informed that is actually NY real estate mogul Jeff Gural. My apologies to Mr Hirsch. A fine actor.

Problematically for Garlick, his US$190 million bid was… successful. Garlick’s attempt to pay that sum, however, was not, leaving him looking like a bit of a chump when he was unable to stump up the US$19 million deposit.

Which leaves World Standing-Up Sleeping Champion Gural with the option to pay his highest bid, at $189.5 million – which he is now refusing to do, on the basis that he believes Garlick was just there to jack up the price.

And speaking of jacking up prices, it’s well past time that we skipped over to have a look at what’s happening on the ASX today.



Well, call me Kate and draw me like a French girl… Aussie markets have opened higher this morning, with the benchmark jumping 0.8%, making an outright mockery of the April futures contract, which was only pointing 0.55% higher at 7.30 this morning – probably an age-related thing.

Some solid news for our Big 4 banks overnight, after Morgan Stanley released data showing that Australian banks are the “best capitalised institutions in the world” – which makes perfect sense for CBA, ANZ and NAB, leaving Westpac the only outlier.

I think maybe I might have misunderstood what that means. Christian says it could be better, and he’s smarter than me, although significantly less attractive.

Looking at the market sectors, and it’s all groovy and green – except for Energy stocks, which are down 0.5% at lunch time despite crude prices jumping 2% overnight, taking oil’s weekly gain to over 6%.

Materials is doing well, up 1.46% and topping the charts, ahead of Real Estate (+0.92%) and Health Care (+0.72%).

With no Large Caps in the charts for winning or losing this morning, let’s head overseas to find out what’s shaking there.



In the US, the big news this morning is Donald Trump’s indictment by a New York grand jury following a probe into the former president’s probing of a porn star and the hush money he paid that spectacularly failed to hush the whole thing up.

The exact crimes he’s to be charged with remain unknown – grand jury proceedings are secret until the suspect is in custody – but if recent US politics is anything to go by, I strongly suggest strapping yourselves in, because things are gonna get bumpy.

Trump says he’s going to hand himself in to be formally charged on Tuesday. Bring popcorn.

Overnight, though, Wall Street did okay despite plenty of talk from US Fed officials that there’s another 25bp rate hike looming in a few weeks, as Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports.

Struggling retailer Bed Bath & Beyond crashed 26% after announcing it would sell up to US$300 million in diluted new shares to rescue itself. Ssshhhh $BBBY… it’s alright.

The Dow added 0.43%, the S&P climbed 0.57% and the Nasdaq jumped 0.73%.

In Japan, this is now a thing:



Despite that sickening news, the Nikkei is up 0.98% – largely off the back of a surge in sick-bag and anti-nausea medication sales.

In China, Shanghai markets are up 0.36% and the Hang Seng is up 1.57%.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 31 [intraday]:

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In Small Caps this morning, the market leader is Hubify (ASX:HFY), up 27.3% after the company announced that its subsidiary Broadland has inked a fresh five-year deal with Optus to sell Optus Enterprise Services to Australian businesses.

The new deal will see Hubify increase focus on the Enterprise Market segment with revenue estimated at approximately $12m based on the current run rate, and exit the Optus Small Business Program from 1 May, 2023 with a handy $2.28m termination payment from Optus in its pocket.

EML Payments (ASX:EML) has seen a huge surge in interest this morning, jumping 22.6% after announcing that the Central Bank of Ireland directed that a nil% growth cap will apply to EML’s Irish subsidiary, PFS Card Services Ireland (PCSIL) for the 12 months ending 31 March, 2024.

The news comes after a period of turmoil between EML, PCSIL and the Central Bank of Ireland over what the central bank said was “limited remediation progress to date with significant and ongoing deficiencies remaining in PCSIL’s AML/CFT control framework”, with CBI also noting it was “not satisfied with PCSIL’s remediation plan and timetable for completion”.

And Nova Eye Medical (ASX:EYE) has added 17.9% this morning on news that it has been given US FDA clearance for its updated iTrack surgical device to treat glaucoma, which is forecast to significantly expand its market in the US.

The iTrack Advance is a new generation canaloplasty device for canal-based glaucoma surgery, a high precision hand-held delivery system that places the iTrack microcatheter into the main drainage canal of the eye for injection of viscoelastic fluid (canaloplasty) to clear blockages causing elevated eye pressure (glaucoma).

Sounds completely gross, but apparently it works a treat.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 31 [intraday]:

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