There’s no nice way of saying it, but the market’s had a shocker this morning, leaving everyone feeling mournful and sour.

It’s Wall Street’s fault, but here we are, with the ASX 200 benchmark down 1.7% at lunch.

And as if that’s not bad enough, today also happens to be International Bagpipes Day, a day for the world to pause and be thankful that – if they aren’t Scottish – the bagpipes are not their national instrument and they don’t have to hear them being played very often.

This year, I have prepared myself for it in the traditional manner, by spending several hours last night stabbing myself in the ears with a knitting needle, so if you want to complain about this next bit, you’re gonna have to speak up.

Bagpipes are, I will admit, visually spectacular. My personal theory is that they were invented by someone whose toddler-aged child had gotten hold of the family cat and wedged it firmly under one arm with its back legs splayed toward the heavens.

It was the sound that the cat made, as the child simultaneously bit down on the cat’s tail while giving it a good, solid squeeze under his arm, that alerted the family to their pet’s predicament.

Arriving on the scene, assaulted by the noise of a clearly very distressed animal, and seeing his child with the cats tail in his mouth, its rear legs splayed towards the heavens, and yowling mightily due to the combination of stress, pain and the sheer embarrassment of the situation, that man decided, there and then, that looked like an amazing musical instrument.

It’s a little known fact that for the first 6 or 7 years, live cats were used as bagpipes, until the death toll among would-be bagpiperists grew too high, and a more manageable prototype, made through the simple expedience of turning a cat inside out and jamming a pipe down its neck, was born.

That’s not the reason why the bagpipes are somewhat problematic – what does make them a force to be reckoned with is that they are one of the small number of musical instruments that lack dynamic range.

This means that the noise they make comes in one flavour: annoyingly loud. Which is why the optimal bagpipe listening experience is to have a lone piper on a windswept Scottish moor, honking out a slow, mournful tune while the audience is, ideally, as far away as possible. Like, in Australia.

Combine that with the fact that most people who play the bagpipes will only ever learn 5 tunes, and will play them over and over and over again, and you can see why they’ve become stablemates with babies screaming, and tinnitus, on the list of the most horrendous noises on the planet.

There is one notable exception, and it is this:



Now before you get all het up, throw on your sporrans and come to kick my door down and my teeth in, please note that I am (mostly) kidding, and I’m allowed to rag on the bagpipes because I am (technically) of Scottish descent, which “makes it okay” under the Current Rules of Identity Discourse (2023 Edition).

Got a DNA test to prove it, too – as well as a name that 99% of people incorrectly assume is Russian, but is about as Scottish as a name could be without having a Mc or a Mac in there somewhere.

Anyhoo… it’s International Bagpipes Day, the market has sh-t itself, so I reckon if you’re in the office right now, throw on this video, crank up the volume, lock your computer so it can’t be switched off and head down to the pub for a whisky-soaked lunch.



Once you’ve had a look at what the market’s been doing this morning, of course.



Ugh. What a sh-tshow. Weak US jobs data pushed Wall Street lower overnight, so local markets are hiding in the basement as well, with the ASX 200 benchmark down a miserable 1.7% at lunch.

It was US bank stocks that tanked overnight, and it’s the Bloated Fat Cat Financials sector weighing most heavily locally as well, down 2.4% with Energy (-2.26%) and Materials (-2.02%) in hot pursuit.

There’s a solitary sector with the needle in the green, and that’s Utilities, up 0.82%. Keep going, buddy… we believe in you!

There’s a solitary Large Cap rising into the winner’s circle today as well. Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) has added a modest 3.23% this morning, on no news… it really is going to be one of those days.



On Wall Street overnight, it got a little heated, things were said and I’m sure everyone’s very sorry – but the end result can’t be changed, so we all just need to deal with the consequences, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

As Earlybird Eddy reported this morning, it was a slab of piss-weak jobs data that ruined the party. Initial jobless claims in the US rose from 190,000 to 211,000 for the week, while the Challenger job cut report showed 77,770 jobs were lost in February.

Bank stocks fell the most on Wall Street as SVB Financial Group plunged more than 50% after the lender slashed its 2023 outlook and launched a share sale.

The NYSE being what it is, that fear spread like a dose of the clap through a footy club, and a bunch of other “rock solid” big bank stocks were also sold off – with JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo falling by 5%.

As I mentioned yesterday afternoon, Tesla’s deep in the doo-doo again, dropping a further 5% overnight as the investigation into concerns that a new ‘feature’ of Tesla’s Model Y SUV is a steering wheel that can come off while the car is travelling at speed takes shape.

Meanwhile in Japan, the Nikkei has slumped 1.22% on news that Japanese discount store Don Quixote has launched a new brand of instant noodles, that comes with a sachet of what the company calls “Premium Magic Powder”, which it promises “will make instant ramen taste amazing“.

The exact contents of the powder are yet to be determined, but if my theory is correct, it means Japan has managed to revolutionise a use for all the fine powder that has been accumulating in the bottom of every stoner’s pot grinder for decades.

Meanwhile, over in China where marijuana powder is banned so food is flavoured with the traditional Chinese herb MSG, the Hang Seng is down 1.77% and Shanghai is 0.60% lower in very early trade.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 10 [intraday]:

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In Small Caps news, Magnum Mining & Exploration (ASX:MGU) has announced a cracking result from metallurgical test work on ore from its Buena Vista Green Pig Iron Project mine site in Nevada, USA.

The company says that the testing confirms a +68% Fe product can be produced, and that due to the nature of the ore, the previously-designed production plant will only require minimal changes to be operational.

Additionally, ore hardness testing has indicated that production at the plant can be achieved with a much lower power requirement than the company’s peers.

On a day when the market was crying out for good news, this looks like the answer – and investors have rewarded GOR with a 60% climb before lunch.

Proof positive that investors are really scratching around for value today is GWR Group’s (ASX:GWR) 27% climb, after it announced that it’s received a couple of cheques in the mail.

Granted, those two cheques totalled $1,512,000, and are for just two months’ worth of a minimum (roughly) $52 million worth of royalties the company is set to receive from Gold Valley Iron Ore  over the next 10 years.

It’s a nice, steady earner for GWR, which will now receive $756,000 a month up until the earlier of such time as Gold Valley has shipped or otherwise sold 3,000,000 tonnes of iron ore from the C4 deposit on or after 3 January 2023, or a total of 36 such monthly payments have been made.

Meanwhile, there’s the normal roster of market minnows moving around a lot on razor-thin volume, but worth noting is HyTerra (ASX:HYT), which is continuing to blow up after news from its hydrogen project in Nebraska, adding more than 12% this morning.

The company is pushing ahead with well testing that aims to “to demonstrate the hydrogen production potential of the Hoarty NE3 well and gain first-hand operational experience in natural hydrogen resource development”, the company says.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 1 [intraday]:

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