The ASX has opened lower this morning, following a miserable effort on Wall Street in the wake of one US Fed official’s comments and US President Joe Biden’s unexpectedly chaotic State of the Union address.

Elsewhere in the United States, a man accused of stealing two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo in Texas has reportedly admitted to being behind the thefts – and, if released, he would go back to the zoo and steal some more.

Police say 24-year-old Davion Irvin has admitted to jumpinga fence to get onto zoo grounds, cutting the metal mesh of an enclosure and making off with two emperor tamarin monkeys.

According to Irvin, he made use of the Dallas light rail system to travel nearly 25km back to the abandoned house he was using to store the monkeys, along with a number of other animals he had allegedly stolen.



Inside the home, police say they found “multiple cats and pigeons, in addition to dead feeder fish and fish food that had disappeared from a staff-only area of the zoo”.

Irvin has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty – three for each monkey – and a separate charge for an earlier break-in at the zoo in which a clouded leopard named Nova was set free from her enclosure.

The man was arrested after staff at the Dallas World Aquarium alerted police that a man had been on the premises, asking suspicious questions about animals at the facility.



Aussie markets sank from the moment the bell rang this morning, dropping 0.4% after Wall Street lost ground in a grumbly session overnight, before recovering to -0.3% by mid-morning and just -0.17% by lunch.

Sector-wise, it’s all pretty flat across the board, from Health Care up highest by 0.26% through to Materials on -0.36%. But then we hit the bottom two, and it’s an unpleasant story indeed – InfoTech has fallen 1.12% and Utilities is in a right funk, down 2.86% so far today.

That’s despite Utilities large cap Mercury NZ (ASX:MCY) finding itself in the winner’s list today, up 6.18% on no fresh news, while Maas Group (ASX:MGH) is soaring +10.4% today after releasing EBITDA guidance for 1H23 in the range of $64m-$66m, a 60% leap above pcp.



In the US overnight, Wall Street took a minor league hammering after Fed Chair of New York John Williams busted out his best Jerome Powell impersonation and frightened the pants off the market.

Earlybird Eddy Sunarto reports that Williams “sank risk appetite when he reminded investors that if financial conditions loosen, higher rates may be needed”.

“We still have work to do on raising rates,” Williams said.

“That still seems a very reasonable view of what we’ll need to do this year in order to get supply and demand in balance, and bring inflation down.”

Williams also reiterated that if the situation changes, the Fed can move faster than 25bp moves.

In tech stock news, Google parenty company Alphabet has been handed an enormous 8% slice of humble pie, after it was reported that the company’s all-singing, all-dancing new AI chatbot called Bard had apparently made a bit of a boo-boo in an online advertising campaign.

According to Reuters, Bard incorrectly identified the first satellite to take pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system – not exactly a good look for an AI that’s been trained on every piece of information that Google has managed to hoover up into its databanks over the past few decades.

And Zoom – the company that brought you the software that meant you could refuse to wear pants to work and still keep your job – has brought the hammer down on around 15% of its workforce, or 1,300 people.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said the “uncertainty of the global economy” was partly to blame, but he also admitted the company “made mistakes” – like hiring 1,300 people more than it needed to, apparently.

In Japan, the Nikkei has fallen 0.5% in early trade today on news that researchers have unearthed an enormous 7-foot-long iron sword from the 4th Century Tomio Maruyama Tumulus burial mound, near the city of Nara.

Scholars are divided on whether the sword belonged to an actual giant, or if the sword was merely produced hundreds of years prior to the Japanese obsession with miniaturisation in manufacturing kicked in.

The sword is set to be classified as a national treasure, and will be stored securely until it is required by a six-piece modular evil-fighting robot to save mankind in an epic space battle, as predicted in the ancient Japanese scriptures known as The Voltron Scrolls.

At the time of writing, Hong Kong and Shanghai’s markets were yet to get started for the day, so you’ll either have to look ‘em up yourself or wait patiently until this afternoon and hope that I don’t forget to include them in Closing Bell.

In crypto news, the vast majority of the AI-related coins and tokens and other assorted gew-gaws that went soaring yesterday have landed with the energy and grace of a poleaxed giraffe. But… it’s crypto, so it wasn’t like no one saw that coming, right?

There’s also been an uptick in high-volume crypto trading, because of course there has, and for everyone who thinks NFTs are just a ludicrously complicated means of losing money, the good news is that short-selling JPGs and GIFs is now a thing.

There’s more from cryptoland this morning, of course – but I’ll leave it up to Rob “AI FTW” Badman, over at Mooners & Shakers to fill you in on the rest.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 9 [intraday]:

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Leading the winners this morning is CleanSpace (ASX:CSX), a company that designs, manufactures, and sells premium respiratory protection solutions for healthcare and industrial markets.

CSX is up 46.7% this morning on news that it’s been awarded three healthcare distribution contracts for the North American/United States markets – two of the agreements with leading Group Purchasing Organisations (GPOs) and the third with a large national medical equipment distributor.

Cleanspace hasn’t put a dollar figure on potential revenue that it’s likely to see from any or all of the new agreements – however, investors have piled on this morning and CSX is happily on top of the charts.

Meanwhile, of a neuroprotective therapeutic drug development firm Argenica Therapeutics (ASX:AGN) has announced that preclinical data has shown ARG-007 significantly inhibited the aggregation of human recombinant Amyloid-Beta (Abeta) in a cell-free Abeta aggregation assay model.

“Abeta aggregation is thought to be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s Disease, with the Abeta accumulation in senile plaques causing memory loss and confusion,” the company says.

“At 16 hours following ARG-007 administration, a 25 μM dose of ARG-007 reduced Abeta aggregation by more than 50% compared to vehicle controls.”

The company will now progress to animal studies to further confirm the efficacy of ARG-007 in Alzheimer’s Disease and will update the market as milestones are met.

Another healthcare stock on a charge this morning is Imricor Medical Systems (ASX:IMR), up more than 30% on no news, and always worth a mention when it bobs up in the winner’s charts, mining minnow Western Yilgarn (ASX:WYX) is up 18.5% this morning – also for no apparent reason – with the gain taking its one-year climb to an eye-popping 3,733.33%.



Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 9 [intraday]:

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