Australian markets have opened lower today, because Jerome Powell is a crotchety old meanie and is the reason we can’t have nice things.

The ASX was led lower by a poor effort on Wall Street overnight, which saw the major indices there dump around 1.6% apiece after the US Fed hiked rates, despite the ungodly mess the financial sector is in on the tubby side of the Pacific Ocean at the moment.

The end result for us, though, was an immediate slump back below 7,000 points for the ASX 200 benchmark, a 0.8% drop that looks set to hang around glumly, like a weird cousin at a wedding reception.

We’ll get to the specifics of how Thursday’s taken a turn for the worse shortly, but first a quick whistle-stop in Hong Kong, where it seems a “certain someone” might not be a fan of horror films.

Independent film distribution company VII Pillars has – very abruptly – announced that one of the most highly-anticipated low-budget slasher horror films featuring beloved childrens’ book characters of this year has been pulled from cinemas hours before it was due to have its official premiere in Hong Kong later tonight.

The film’s title should offer something of a hint as to why: Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, which – I’m not gonna lie – looks like it could be a cinematic masterpiece for the ages.

… okay, that was actually a lie. Because it actually looks like one of those “so sh-t, it’s awesome” micro-budget movies that would 100% have been a ‘straight-to-DVD’ release, back in the days when you still had to leave the house to organise a movie to play while you fumbled awkwardly with your partner on the couch.

The distro company hasn’t explicitly said the film’s been bounced from its theatrical release in Hong Kong because of “censorship”, but given how profoundly sensitive snowflake Chinese leader Xi Jinping is about his observably hilarious resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, it doesn’t take a genius to join the dots.

In case you’d missed the memo about Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, it only exists because the copyright on original Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne’s creation aged out in January 2022 – making Pooh and all of his pals from 100 Acre Wood fair game.

Except for Tigger, the large cat poster child for undiagnosed ADHD, who Milne introduced in the second Winnie the Pooh book as a foil to the obviously suicidal Eeyore, because the donkey, as Milne famously never said, was “bumming everyone out”.

It’s worth noting that the Hong Kong government is laying the blame for the film being yanked from cinemas at the feet of the distributor, who in turn says it’s the cinema management companies that are to blame, hinting that there may have been some pressure from somewhere higher up the food chain.

It had been cleared by Hong Kong’s censors at The Office of Film, Newspaper and Article Administration, but since the roll-out of Hong Kong’s “Basic Law” via Beijing, anyone busted for the nebulous crimes of “subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion” risks life imprisonment.

So, yeah. You can do the maths on that one.

For what it’s worth, the film had been granted the equivalent of an R Rating – but how a film featuring a character known to cause Great Consternation for Xi Jinping, which contains “detailed depiction of cruelty, bloody violence, strong shocking content and coarse language” would magically get banned hours before kicking off in Hong Kong will probably just have to remain a mystery.

A spooky, spooky mystery.

But while we’re on the topic of unspeakable violence and bloodshed, let’s all skip through 100 Acre Wood to see how the ASX is doing this morning…



The lunch whistle has been blown, and the ASX 200 benchmark is still wallowing around -0.8% for the day, but is showing some signs of improvement, the more I scream obscenities words of encouragement at it.

We seem to be stuck in a repeat of results from the past few weeks, with pretty much every sector tracking south, except for gold stocks, so we’re back into the hunt for a safe haven after a couple of days of thrilling speculation.

InfoTech is getting caned again, down 1.22%, with Materials (-0.98%) and Real Estate (-0.91%) hard on its heels, while the best of the major sectors is Utilities, which has managed to remain almost neutrally buoyant on -0.09% for the morning.

The closest thing to a Large Cap winner today is Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR), up 4.92% today but only because Twiggy’s left a seductively girthy pile of cash on the coffee table in the hope that Mincor shareholders might take him up on his buyout offer.

Probably best to just lie back and think of the Pilbara, and get it over and done with quickly so we can all go home and take a shower.



In the US overnight, Jerome Powell and his US Fed cronies torpedoed the market again with a 25 basis point rate hike that we all knew was coming, but which still managed to shock Wall Street into a steep sell off.

But… there were some encouraging signs that this could be the last hike, at least for a little while, from The Fed, reports Earlybird Eddy Sunarto this morning.

“Events in the banking system over the past two weeks are likely to result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses, which would in turn affect economic outcomes,” Powell said, after wiping his mouth on the curtains and glancing around the room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten his wallet.

“It is too soon to determine the extent of these effects, and therefore too soon to tell how monetary policy should respond,” he added, patting his pockets to make sure his phone hadn’t been stolen.

“As a result, we no longer state that we anticipate that ongoing rate increases will be appropriate to quell inflation. Instead, we now anticipate that some additional policy firming may be appropriate,” he snarled menacingly, brandishing an egg-beater and diving out the 9th-floor window to land with a spry thud on the roof of his Official US Fed limo parked out front.

The upshot of the rate hike: All three major US indexes – the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq – fell by around 1.6% each, because herd mentality is a bitch.

In Japan, the Nikkei has dropped 0.57% this morning on news that Pizza Hut has released a new menu offering, called the “Pakuchi Sugite Kusa” – literally translated, it means “Too Much Coriander Pizza”.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a 12-minute video of a chubby dude with terrible hair eating one, and being very Japanese while doing so.



And, in case you’re wondering “how much coriander on a pizza is too much coriander?”, the correct answer is “any”.

(Don’t @ me. You know it’s true.)

In China, Shanghai’s market has dipped 0.21% this morning due to ouright naked fear, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is flat, but losing ground.

In cryptoland, The Fed’s rate hike appears to have knocked some wind out of everyone’s sails – again, even though we all saw it coming a mile off – shaking BTC and the rest of a majors lower overnight.

To make matters worse, Coinbase keeps getting nasty postcards from SEC goon Gary “This is what happens when a frog doinks a fish” Gensler, which has rattled crypto confidence even further.

Rob “I made Gregor write that about Gensler” Badman has far more thorough analysis over at Mooners and Shakers. I suggest you go read it, before he turns up at your house like he has been at mine.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for March 23 [intraday]:

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In comedy, they say, timing is everything – an adage that also apparently holds true for ASX-listed goldies, if the tale of Besra Gold (ASX:BEZ) is any indication.

On Tuesday, Besra announced a US$300m offtake deal with major shareholder Quantum Metal Recovery, securing funding to bring its 3Moz Bau gold project into production.

That announcement was timed to perfection, as gold became super-hot panic-buy property and BEZ flew up 55.0% – and even when the goldies were sold off yesterday, it still managed to pack on another 26.7%.

This morning, the gold rush is back on in the face of more interest rate misery in the US, and Besra is up again, another 36.1% for a very rare three-banger to take its gains for the week to 162.5%.

Kuniko (ASX:KNI) is up 16.1% this morning after revealing it has chewed its way into an outstanding intersection of visible cobalt mineralisation in a new mineralised horizon at the Middagshville drill target at the Skuterud cobalt project in Norway.

A total of five drill holes returned visible cobalt intersections while another four returned shallow, near surface mineralisation.

The priority of the drill programme has been around the Middagshvile target where previous drilling by Kuniko delivered cobalt mineralisation in 8 of 8 drill holes and defined a mineralised zone of 450m, open along strike and at depth.

“This is a superb result from our drilling so far at Skuterud which signals the potential for further exploration upside that remains to be unlocked at the project,” KNI CEO Antony Beckmand says.

Meanwhile, Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) has cranked out a 13% climb on a solid spike in volume without a skerrick of news to pin it on, so there’s that.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for March 23 [intraday]:

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