Australian markets have opened lower this morning, down 0.2%



Australian markets have opened lower this morning, after Wall Street’s rally careered off the road and plunged into an ebullient crowd of Portuguese fans, in a move reminiscent of the Golden Age of Group B Rallying – a period when the cars got so powerful that not even the sheer will of a bunch of idiotic fans standing in the middle of the road could stop them.

The benchmark fell 0.19% pretty much instantly today, and has wobbled around vaguely ever since, to be down 0.2% now that lunchtime is upon us, suggesting that someone, somewhere didn’t get the memo that most of us just want trading prices to go up.

And speaking of memos, says the author with a grimace because even he can see that’s a hastily scribbled segue that won’t stand the test of time, today’s news is all about an ancient form of communication getting a new lease on life, thanks to a program being run by prisoners in a Canadian jail.

According to CTV News, authorities at Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, 80 kilometres east of Vancouver, have captured a pigeon wearing a tiny little backpack stuffed with meth, which they say was an unwitting participant in a back-to-basics operation aimed at smuggling drugs into the prison.

“My initial reaction was shock because of all the advancements in technology and the number of drones we’ve seen. The fact that it’s tied to a pigeon is abnormal,” said John Randle, Pacific regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers.

The drones Randle is referring to are cheap, hobby-level quadcopters that have been used increasingly in recent times to fly drugs and other contraband over prison walls, to land in the prison yard for inmates to collect the cargo, before flying off again.

The drones, that is… not the prisoners. Because prisoners, quite famously, don’t fly very well, as Simon West’s groundbreaking 1997 documentary Con Air clearly demonstrates.

The use of carrier pigeons dates back to the times of Ancient Rome, when the birds were used to send messages between generals and their armies, and smuggle meth into Persia to help fund Rome’s conquest of Gaul.

This latest iteration of the Noble Carrier Pigeon marks an alarming escalation in the use of birds by groups on both sides of the law – and is likely a response to news that Dutch authorities have perfected the use of eagles in hunting and bringing down drones.

I realise that sounds like it’s entirely made up, but I assure you, it’s not… the Dutch have been employing birds of prey to thwart drone usage since at least 2016. And here’s a video.

However, the use of carrier pigeons to smuggle drugs in Canada leaves authorities there in something of an ethical bind, as they try to come up with some way to stop the birds from being used.

Canadian authorities have been quick to hose down rumours that the nation’s Top Scientists have managed to adapt a medieval siege weapon to make it capable of firing 100 cats into the air at a time in a bid to stop the feathered drug couriers.

Leading Aussie pigeon fancier Bill Lawry was approached for comment, but a representative for the former cricket commentator said “he’s been dead for ages” and called me an idiot, which wasn’t very nice. So I’m changing the subject.



As this morning turns into lunchtime, the ASX 200 is looking very determined to remain at or around -0.2%, mostly because Wall Street ran out of steam overnight, which was mostly the fault of The Dreaded US Fed’s high-ranking people making sad noises about more interest rate rises.

Locally, the Telcos form the only sector in positive territory this morning, but even that’s by a teensy-tiny 0.04% – everything else has dipped into the red, with Industrials (-0.96%) the worst performer, and Health Care (-0.51%) and Consumer Staples (-0.38%) adding more cement to the market’s shoes.

There aren’t any Big $$$ Names in the winner’s circle this morning – but there’s a bunch of bigger-than-a-billions taking some losses today.

Imugene (ASX:IMU) has given back a chunk of the gains it made yesterday on news that it’s been given Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval to commence a Phase I clinical trial of its oncolytic virotherapy candidate, VAXINIA in Australia. It’s down 4.41% so far today.

Also slumping are diggers Arafura Rare Earths (ASX:ARU), down 6.4% on no real news and De Grey (ASX:DEG), which has fallen sharply by 5.4% this morning.

De Grey’s drop this morning ends a solid gain streak that began at $1.26 on 29 December last year, after hitting a peak at $1.575 at close last night – a +20% run that’s been snapped at an unfortunate time for the company’s newest non-executive director.

DEG announced this morning that Business Advisor and Corporate Lawyer Emma Scotney had been appointed – but it’s super-unlikely that the news and De Grey’s form slump this morning are linked.



Looking overseas, it was a curious night on Wall Street. While you were probably asleep, a couple of senior officials from the US Fed started yammering about interest rates again, spooking the cows of Wall Street and causing them to give sour milk.

As Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports, investors began selling when two Federal Reserve officials said the central bank will have to raise rates above 5% to contain inflation, which is currently sitting at 4.25%.

“We are just going to have to hold our resolve,” said Raphael Bostic, president of the Atlanta Fed – clearly painfully aware that what he was saying (and what the Fed’s been doing with interest rates) is all very much on the nose.

San Francisco Fed’s Mary Daly also chimed in, saying that raising rates “in more gradual steps does give you the ability to respond to incoming information”, because pointing out the bleeding obvious is one of Ms Daly’s most highly-rated skills on her LinkedIn page.

And, apparently because Ms Daly really wants people to know how great she is at that particular task, she added that it is too early to “declare victory” over inflation.

I’m sure she’s really lovely and went to a great school and knows a lot about economics and stuff, but come on… that sort of waffle hardly inspires confidence.

Anyway – those two blew the wind up Wall Street’s skirts towards the end of the session, leaving the markets mixed at close. The Dow was down 0.34%, the S&P largely flat and the Nasdaq was up 0.63%.

The Nasdaq has a rally from Tesla to thank, in part, for its overall win for the day, with the EV maker up 6.0%. That was alongside a jump for chipmakers NVIDIA and AMD, both up around 5.1% as well.

In Asia this morning, Japanese investors have returned from their “Everyone Be Nice to the Old People” holiday, which has left everyone in a fairly positive frame of mind.

The Nikkei is up 0.86% in early trade, quite probably because Krispy Kreme Japan has unveiled a magnificent pair of tits as its latest menu offering.


asx lunch Cyprium CYM
Yup… those are definitely tits. Pic via PR Wire Japan / Krispy Kreme

The Krispy Kreme Premium Hokkaido Shima Enaga Matcha & Adzuki doughnut will set you back 367 yen (AUD$4.00) a pop – “Shima Enaga” being the Japanese name for a small bird known in English as the long-tailed tit, which is found only in the snowy regions of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido.

In China, Shanghai’s markets are 0.24% lower, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng is sliding in very early trade, down 0.34% so far.



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

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In Small Caps news, Cyprium Metals (ASX:CYM) is up 17.3% on solid volume, as it beavers its way through Phase 1 of the Nifty Copper Project Restart.

Cyprium recently announced an offtake agreement for about 100% (~140,000 tonnes) of the Copper Cathode produced during Phase 1 of the restart, alongside a US$35M Secured Offtake Prepayment Facility through Transamine SA.

Turaco Gold (ASX:TCG) has gone soaring this morning off the back of a major gold hit, after the company revealed a highlight 26m @ 4.82g/t gold from 35m at the Satama discovery in Côte d’Ivoire, where the company says the zone of high-grade mineralisation remains open in all directions.

And Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C) is up 12.5% this morning, on news that production has resumed at its 75% owned Copper Mountain Mine located in southern British Columbia near the town of Princeton, following a ransomware attack that brought production to a halt in the final days of 2022.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for January 10 [intraday]:

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