The ASX has opened with a modest upward blip this morning, following a “rally” in the US overnight after yesterday’s bloodletting that had Wall Street running red and investors running scared.

But first, we cross to Taiwan, where the Mid-Autumn Festival has been held and things are beginning to get back to normal again.

It’s a special time of year for people across Asia – a time for getting together with family, giving thanks, worshipping a sterile sphere of rock in the sky and getting trapped in Chinese traffic jams so bad they make getting home from the footy finals seem like soaring along the autobahn behind the wheel of someone else’s supercar.

The focus, of course, is the moon. Venerated, considered deeply and even worshipped, it’s the focal point of many activities and the inspiration for the festival’s most famous component, Moon Cakes.

However, staff at the Taoyuan Veterans Home, a state-run facility for retired army personnel, figured that they’d spice up the festival celebrations this year.

Probably tired of watching toothless old men gum their way through plate after plate of the glutinous treats, staff held a brainstorming session on how to liven things up a little. The answer? Hire a bunch of strippers. Of course.

Footage of the dancers doing their level best to induce as many heart attacks and broken hips as possible found its way onto social media, and it’s… well, it’s definitely something.

The highlight is one old guy’s excitement levels rising to the point that his oxygen mask bellows condensation like a super-expensive strip-cub fog machine, after being invited to get a little handsy with the dancer.

Old mate seems pretty keen, but – like a dog that loves nothing more than chasing cars down the street – he seems entirely unsure what to do with it once he’s caught it.

If you’re not at work, you can watch it here. If you are at work, and don’t mind getting fired, you can also watch it there.

If you do watch it at work and get the boot for breaking whatever draconian IT policy you’re forced to labour beneath, don’t panic – there’s an old folks’ home in Taiwan that is probably looking for new staff, after the last lot got fired for bussing in a vanload of flexible floozies to observe ancient traditions by shaking their mooncakes about.

Anyhow… let’s take a look at what’s had the market’s pulse racing this morning.

 

TO MARKETS

Australian markets opened with an upward thrust this morning, moving somewhat rhythmically up and down to reach a +0.7% climax just before the bell rang for lunch and the cigarettes were handed out.

Outperforming every other sector by several country miles is Energy (+3.48%), having a screamer this morning off the back of a number of decent spikes, with Financials (+0.93%) and Materials (+0.54%) lending a bit more momentum to the morning’s positivity.

Lagging, though, are Utilities (-1.16%) which is into Day 2 of a slump that everyone else was thoroughly bored with by the time the bell rang at the end of play yesterday.

Top Winners are Coronado Global Resources (ASX:CRN), on a +9.4% jag today on no particular news, and Leo Lithium (ASX:LLL), up +9.66% today and continuing its climb after it showed off its rosy-pink-healthy half year accounts on Tuesday.

Trading lower are SOUTH32 (ASX:S32, -6.37%), Spark New Zealand (ASX:SPK, -4.0%) and Fletcher Building (ASX:FBU, -4.26%) after going ex-div today.

Let’s take a quick look overseas, and not just on the off chance that Wall Street’s brought in some strippers to breathe life into the markets overnight.

 

NOT THE ASX

Welp… no exotic dancers but the US markets have delivered something of a reprieve after those wretched inflation numbers sent the market into the kind of tailspin usually reserved for aerial dogfights over Belgium.

If you squint when you look at it, and you’re feeling extremely generous, you could call it a rally. But realistically, it’s a bounce that has “We’re sorry, sweetheart, but Whiskers has gone to live on a farm” written all over it.

The Dow was up +0.10%, the S&P +0.34% and the Nasdaq added 0.74% in a clawback you’d need a forensic investigator digging under your fingernails to find, relative to the beating US markets took the night before.

This morning’s US report from Eddy Sunarto says a lot of things, including pointing out that recession risks are going up now that the Fed will likely need to take rates above 4.00%.

The possibility of a US recession continues to loom as the US 2-year vs 30-year spread is the most inverted in over 20 years.

An inverted curve, where the short end yield is higher than long end, signals a possible recession as bond traders put their money in longer dated maturities (pushing those yields lower), Eddy explains.

In company news, it seems that China has developed a taste for profoundly awful coffee. Starbucks lifted 5.5% after raising its three-year profit and revenue outlook, nd the company said it plans to increase the amount of stores in China, its second largest market, by 50% to 9,000 stores by 2025.

It’s a smart move by Starbucks to build on its offshore outlet numbers, as it is facing an increasingly loud and angry workforce in the US after a prolonged period of agitation from workers looking to unionise has upset the company’s reputation at home.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong markets have risen +0.34% and +0.44% respectively. However, clearly still bloated on mooncakes, Shanghai has dropped 0.36% – possibly on news that China is looking to invade Taiwan and nationalise what is clearly a booming national naked-lady resource.

At the commodities desk, oil is basically flat while gas has blurted out a -0.43% raspberry this morning.

Gold is down 0.3%, silver is millimetres lower (-0.05%) and copper is on a trend-busting +0.72% charge for the day.

And in today’s Crypto Crossword, where the clues make no sense but the answer’s always “Nah, bro – we’re all gonna be billionaires”, Merge Day is finally here, and Ethereum is set to make its historic move from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake.

Whether that means everyone will suddenly become kajillionaires or we’re simply arming the wider community with something to drive through the heart of crypto once and for all remains to be seen.

But you can bet your bottom Bitcoin that Rob “Proof of Steak” Badman will be all the way across it in Mooners & Shakers.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for September 15 [intraday]:

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In Small Caps, there are a few trophies to hand out this morning. First up, Biggest Gain by a Small Cap goes to Intelicare Holdings (ASX:ICR), which stacked on 55.56% today for no apparent reason.

It’s a remarkable turnaround that’s brought ICR out of the ICU – the company was trading at just $0.025 on Tuesday at the tail end of an inglorious slump from highs of $0.10 in April this year.

Biggest Gain by a Small Cap Trading Higher than a Solitary Lyrebird, Pacific Nickel Mines (ASX:PNM) has climbed past $0.10 this morning with a 27.9% surge.

PNM revealed that it’s been awarded a Mining Lease for the Kolosori Nickel Project from the Solomon Islands Minister of the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification.

This, clearly, made everyone’s money pockets happy as it’s a huge step forward for the project, coming more than two months since the Minister signalled he was ready to sign the permit. Perhaps he lost his pen.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for September 15 [intraday]:

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