Aussie markets opened lower this morning, thanks to a dud of a day on Wall Street to end last week, thanks in turn to those loudmouths at the US Fed who just  won’t stop talking about what they’re planning to do to the entire country, now that they’ve paid for dinner and a movie.

Things sank a bit this morning, but as we roll through lunch, the benchmark has rallied and is now sitting higher by 0.006%. We’re gonna need a bit of the old Market Magic this afternoon…

On the topic of magic tricks, China has apparently put in its entry for the 2023 International Magic Eisteddfod a little early, after showcasing its latest “mysterious” way of making people disappear by reportedly wandering off with one of its most prominent business leaders last week.

The billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of investment bank China Renaissance, Bao Fan, who is regarded as “one of China’s most high-profile bankers” – and there’s a lot of them – was reported missing by colleagues last week.

When the news broke on Friday, shares in China Renaissance Holdings crashed as much as 50.0%, ending the day down 28.2% on the Hong Kong stock exchange, with all eyes on whether the market’s taken the weekend to absorb the news properly, or if it’s going to plunge even further the longer Bao remains “not around”.

Tellingly, the company is yet to make any sort of formal announcement about Bao’s disappearance.

It’s big news because of Bao’s stature in the Chinese business world – however, he’s not the first Big Business type to stop showing up to work in China, where, according to 9News, it’s “not uncommon” for CEOs to “drop off the radar” from time to time.

In 2020, a real estate tycoon by the name of Ren Zhiqiang made the rookie mistake of speaking out against Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s draconian bungling of the Covid-19 epidemic.

For his troubles, Ren was given a state-sponsored holiday from work for a few months, resurfacing briefly to be sentenced to 18 years in prison for “corruption” – to the surprise of absolutely no one, considering how obviously bent the construction industry is in China.

Plus, there’s the whole ‘totalitarian government widely known for disappearing people only to have them emerge singing the CCP anthem through gritted teeth…’ play. What’s left of their teeth, anyway.

It’s the equivalent of Albo nabbing ol’ mate Twiggy off the street and locking him in a caravan in Toukley until he’s either able to sing the entire Cold Chisel back catalogue from memory, or he admits to preferring imported beers over our gold-standard local brews and is sentenced to life in prison for the crime of being “Un-Australian”.

And it’d never fly in Japan – most probably because the nation would be collectively on the hunt for the missing execs, through a new app that I just thought up and would like some help developing.

It’s kind of like Pokemon Go, but users compete to track down missing CEOs using cellphone tower triangulation and traditional ninja skills, like scaling tall buildings and moving silently in the shadows.

It’ll be called Where’s the Boss, and we’re bringing Tony Danza out of retirement for the marketing campaign.

But I digress.

Back in 2017 (and back in China), insurance giant Anban’s chairman Wu Xiaohui disappeared for a while, as did Xiao Jianhua, one of the Top Men at the delightfully-named Tomorrow Holdings. Wu copped 18 years, and Xiao’s doing 13. Brutal.

2015 was a bumper year for Mandatory Holidays, when “senior executives from dozens of Chinese companies also disappeared” – including Guo Guangchang, known throughout China as “the Warren Buffett of China”.

Guo eventually emerged and is back at the helm of his beloved Fosun – but when he went on an actual business trip in 2017, the SCMP reported that shares in the company’s flagship Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group fell 8.8% in Shanghai, and around 7.1% in Hong Kong before the company issued a statement to explain where he was.

Guo was always going to be more likely at Club Med than Club Dead – his company bought the entire range of holiday destinations that 1980s Australia still pines for – but it’s still pretty alarming that a CEO heading off on a business trip without alerting the market is enough to spark rumours that they’ve been nabbed by the fuzz.

Meanwhile, Bao Fan’s still missing, and – at the time of writing – Hong Kong markets haven’t opened yet. But let’s hope to see an uptick in its price today as an indication that he’s okay, and double-hope that he’s not figured out the ultimate in pre-buyback price manipulation.

Because in a system where the CEO can crash the price of his own company simply by buggering off down the coast to go fishing for a week without telling anyone, it’s little wonder so many senior execs are doing horribly hard time for “corruption”…



The benchmark has been moving erratically this morning, looking for all the world like the EKG of a lowly Production Editor’s heartbeat when his mild-mannered boss plays an undies-soiling prank on him in a private Slack channel.

There was a moderately hopeful +0.1% jump when the bell rang, but that honestly just looks like it startled the market more than anything else – since then, it’s been up and down like the hopes and dreams of all Americans, lurching into lunchtime down 0.1% but rallying slightly to head into the afternoon basically flat, but on the green side of break even, by just 0.0068%.

Looking over the sectors, and there’s more red than green today – Energy is lagging lowest, down 0.9% with Real Estate (-0.7%) and Telcos (0.64%) providing the rest of the baggy arse to the day’s ill-fitting three-piece loser suit.

On the plus side, the bloated mess that is the Financials sector is up 0.49% – which is pretty much the only reason the benchmark’s “only” dropped 0.1% so far.

Flying high at the top end of town this morning is Ingham’s (ASX:ING), after releasing its interim half-year results which prove, categorically, that there is an enormous pile of money to be made by murdering millions of chickens every year.

The wholesale destruction of chickens – which are, as I was once told by prominent celebrity bio-nerd David Suzuki, essentially “low-flying vegetables” and are thus perfectly okay with being ground up into nuggets – has delivered “core poultry volume growth of +3.2% and EBITDA increased +31.3% (Underlying EBITDA pre AASB 16 growth of +135.2%)”, the company says.

There’s a joke in there about tendies, but I’m not going to make it because I’m far too classy for that.

There’s been a surge in interest in Weebit Nano (ASX:WBT) today, which is up 6.0% on no fresh news for weeks, and Kelsian Group (ASX:KLS) has added nicely to its climb this month, after revealing that its wholly owned subsidiary Transit Systems has been awarded a new contract for operating bus services in a newly formed Region 2 area in Sydney from October 2023, securing more than $500 million of revenue over the contract term to June 2031.

Probably best to hit the Next Stop button now, or you’ll miss the news about what’s been happening around the rest of the Amazing World of Stock Business Markets.



In the United States, the inability of anyone even remotely connected to the US Fed to keep their mouths shut saw Wall Street falling on Friday.

As Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports, Fed board member and Governor Michelle Bowman told a bankers’ conference the Fed needs to keep raising interest rates to reduce inflation which remains “much too high.”

“I don’t think we’re seeing what we need to be seeing, especially with inflation,” Bowman said. “I think we’ll have to continue to raise the federal funds rate until we start to see a lot more progress on that.”

When the final bell tolled on Friday, the S&P was down 0.28%, the Dow had fallen 0.39% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was left dealing with the loss of 0.58% all told.

In tech company news, Friday saw around 7,000 Meta employees on the wrong end of a poor internal performance review – which sounds an awful lot like the company’s gearing up for another round of layoffs so Lord Zuck the Privacy Slayer can buy more of Hawaii or whatever.

We’ll have to wait another 24 hours to see how the market reacts to that, and the Fed Krew’s perennially loose lips, as Wall Street’s closed tonight to celebrate Washington’s Birthday – which is dumb because it is a) two days early, and b) he won’t be there to blow out any candles because he’s been dead for ages.

In Japan, the Nikkei has ticked up 0.05% as a wave of relief washed over the nation, after someone finally figured out what this horrendously, gloriously Japanese gadget is for.



Turns out it’s not actually one of those hard-to-explain marital aids that require written consent from everybody in a 200m radius. It’s a dishwashing gadget, which reportedly sold “very badly” when it was launched by ludicrous gadget company Thanko.



Meanwhile, in China (where the markets have barely opened by the time I’m writing this each day), Bao Fan is still missing but his company’s stock price has rallied 0.56%, so maybe someone got a postcard from him.

Markets in Shanghai are up 0.25% while in Hong Kong, a more modest 0.20% rise is being reported.

In crypto news, regulators appear to be closing in on mega-exchange Binance, with the company pulling back from a number of its US-entanglements. Still no word on where, why or how $400 million left Binance’s coffers to somewhere it probably shouldn’t… but regulators are probably going to want a proper answer to that sooner rather than later.

While all that’s been happening, Bitcoin has butted heads with US$25,000 and came off second-best, settling around US$24,500 – down 0.4% for the previous 24 hours.

As always, Rob “The Human Headbutt” Badman has theories and explanations galore over at Mooners and Shakers.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 20 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
BLG Bluglass Limited 0.071 31% 10,976,931 $72,335,792
EX1 Exopharm Limited 0.018 29% 3,162,507 $2,200,961
OKR Okapi Resources 0.215 26% 5,995,375 $25,117,921
CAV Carnavale Resources 0.005 25% 300,000 $10,934,207
MEG Megado Minerals Ltd 0.07 21% 22,602,056 $7,975,000
FRS Forrestania Resources 0.155 19% 495,806 $7,915,869
MPG Many Peaks Gold 0.39 18% 194,266 $11,303,160
ADR Adherium Ltd 0.004 14% 215,710 $17,487,534
GTG Genetic Technologies 0.004 14% 1,574,509 $40,395,804
TMZ Thomson Res Ltd 0.008 14% 2,602,534 $6,089,657
BGD Barton Gold Holdings 0.24 14% 149,768 $18,110,884
BRL Bathurst Res Ltd. 1.08 14% 167,027 $180,834,992
ATH Alterity Therap Ltd 0.009 13% 292,222 $19,331,347
BAT Battery Minerals Ltd 0.0045 13% 1,275,000 $11,740,969
CLZ Classic Min Ltd 0.0045 13% 9,939,736 $4,605,308
MYE Metarock Group Ltd 0.145 12% 47,341 $17,029,031
AQI Alicanto Min Ltd 0.05 11% 665,900 $20,079,613
EVZ EVZ Limited 0.2 11% 69,912 $21,711,945
RTR Rumble Res Limited 0.25 11% 1,293,975 $141,018,607
IPT Impact Minerals 0.01 11% 158,600 $22,332,335
MRD Mount Ridley Mines 0.005 11% 783,886 $35,031,973
ZMI Zinc of Ireland NL 0.03 11% 1,000,000 $5,671,196
ING Inghams Group 3.04 11% 2,507,902 $1,018,402,107
TMR Tempus Resources Ltd 0.061 11% 11,180,026 $13,713,603
LRS Latin Resources Ltd 0.1275 11% 17,167,348 $253,190,316
Wordpress Table Plugin


In Small Caps news, local global semiconductor developer BluGlass (ASX:BLG) has popped the champagne corks after receiving its first round of purchase orders for its 405nm and 420nm single-mode devices from “from leading laser original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in the quantum and industrial segments”.

That’s possibly code for super-secret anti-weather balloon weaponry manufacturers – but highly likely to be something far more mundane.

Either way, BluGlass has soared a typographically-pleasing 33.33% so far this morning. #PewPew.

Meanwhile, Okapi Resources (ASX:OKR) has also gained significantly this morning, coming out of a trading halt to announce that it successfully completed a heavily oversubscribed placement to raise $5.1 million from new and existing “high-quality institutional and sophisticated investors”.

The cash injection will allow Okapi to fund its investment in uranium enrichment technology company Ubaryon, as well as advancing the Tallahassee, Maybell and Athabasca uranium projects.

It’s obviously good news, and it’s been well-received by the market – OKR is up 29.4% so far today.

And rounding out the Top 3 today, ExoPharm (ASX:EX1) has bounced around 25% this morning following a no-reason spike in interest in the company. EX1 has been battling to find its feet since a major hiccup earlier this month saw it shed nearly 72% of its value between 7-13 of February, ahead of announcing that it’s secured $2.1 million to keep the lights on.

A notable mention to finish things off goes to last week’s Small Caps darling, Megado Minerals (ASX:MEG), which has added yet another 22.4% this morning to take its seven-day total to +69.0%. Nice.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 20 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Code Company Price % Volume Market Cap
PRM Prominence Energy 0.001 -33% 567,662 $3,636,913
PXX Polarx Limited 0.014 -30% 27,089,576 $27,058,938
LAW Lawfinance Ltd 0.025 -29% 100,000 $2,235,368
SW1 Swift Networks Group 0.009 -25% 588,415 $7,113,560
BME Black Mountain Energy 0.032 -20% 293,288 $2,200,000
CLE Cyclone Metals 0.002 -20% 250,000 $15,441,842
DXN DXN Limited 0.004 -20% 300,000 $8,606,574
MTL Mantle Minerals Ltd 0.002 -20% 828,656 $13,364,013
RDS Redstone Resources 0.008 -20% 433,233 $7,368,324
AJX Alexium Int Group 0.021 -19% 144,078 $16,783,704
ADA Adacel Technologies 0.64 -17% 307,160 $59,168,789
NNL Nordic Nickel 0.29 -17% 143,704 $20,461,001
ILA Island Pharma 0.1 -17% 169,700 $5,189,559
CGS Cogstate Ltd 1.97 -15% 1,083,073 $402,427,195
NME Nex Metals Explorat 0.017 -15% 98,387 $5,576,380
SQX SQX Resources Ltd 0.17 -15% 615,775 $5,000,000
AVE Avecho Biotech Ltd 0.009 -14% 1,110,270 $19,297,628
CPT Cipherpoint Limited 0.006 -14% 3,314,619 $8,005,717
MHC Manhattan Corp Ltd 0.006 -14% 1,998,424 $12,282,630
MRQ Mrg Metals Limited 0.003 -14% 200,000 $6,950,715
PKO Peako Limited 0.012 -14% 32,500 $5,309,014
PNX PNX Metals Limited 0.003 -14% 1,291,625 $15,554,202
NSM Northstaw 0.16 -14% 15,676 $22,223,495
ARV Artemis Resources 0.02 -13% 2,080,493 $32,002,623
PLL Piedmont Lithium Inc 0.935 -13% 4,096,184 $455,219,500
Wordpress Table Plugin