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Whither the slither? This and other compelling questions for investors in the Year of the Snake are raised and answered in CLSA's 19th Fung Shui Index.
Strange but true, it is CLSA's most eagerly anticipated report and is therefore unveiled to clients at special lunches and dinners in London, New York, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. While it doesn't come with a formal disclaimer, CLSA is at pains to stress that it is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek look at the equity market. Nevertheless clients appear to take it pretty seriously, which makes you wonder about them. However, such is the fame of this product that we gather requests come from as far afield as Estonia.
Previous snake years have not been good for markets with the Hang Seng Index closing significantly higher in only one of the last five. Years of the snake we are told are marked by major transformations and change and sometimes great upheaval: Pearl Harbour (1941), Twin Towers (2001), Tiananmen (1989), Fall of the Wall (1989), Depression (1929), recessions (1953, 2001), revolutions (1917, 1989), and major conflicts (1941, 1965). However, CLSA feels there are good fung shui reasons for believing this year should be better behaved since all five of the basic elements or energies are present in the fortune charts.
Investors may be relieved to learn that the annual Flying Star energies return to their home sectors after nine years. As for the HSI, the Year of the Snake should turn in a good first half on the back of a resources led-rally between May and July, with the second half punctuated by massive volatility, but ending with a decent rise that takes the HSI back above its starting point.
The best performing sectors are forecast to be those associated with metal: banking, broking, financial stocks, along with those associated with water: gaming and logistics. As for individuals, the year should be a good one for roosters, cows and dogs, and less good for pigs, tigers, sheep and snakes. As for advice on how to balance your portfolio, CLSA warns using fung shui to balance a portfolio is like trying to nail custard to the wall.
Beijing follows the money
Beijing is planning a crackdown on triad-linked junket trips, which bring mainland high rollers to Macau, according to The Times' man in Beijing. Citing enforcement sources the London newspaper says the crackdown will begin after Lunar New Year and will involve police operations in six big cities as part of the anti-corruption drive led by Xi Jinping, who is expected to become president next month. In addition to addressing corruption the aim is to crack down on the billions leaving the mainland and the money laundering through Macau, which facilitates this, the newspaper says.
Minibusted by plain-clothes cops
Passengers on the 21M minibus from Lee Gardens to Tai Hang Drive were rudely surprised on Tuesday evening soon after their journey started, when two young men leapt to their feet shouting that they were plain-clothes policemen and declared everyone busted for not wearing a seat belt.
The bus was pulled over in front of the Lee Gardens where other buses had been stopped and greeted by uniformed police who duly took their IDs. Our informant, who has lived in Hong Kong for two-and-a-half years, said he had never seen anyone wear a seat belt in a minibus. He was even more dismayed to learn that he would have to appear in court and was liable for a fine of up to HK$5,000 and up to three months in prison. Meanwhile, in the streets opposite Lee Gardens vehicles parked illegally, undisturbed by our zealous police force. Despite the nuisance, they are only liable for a HK$320 fine in the unlikely event they are ticketed.
O'Neill hits the wall
We see that Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill who famously conceived of the acronym BRIC, is to retire from the firm. It is possibly the most famous and enduring of the alphabet soup that peppers the investment world, standing for Brazil, Russia, India and China.
They were supposedly the fastest-growing economies in the world. As Bloomberg points out, he was the son of a postman and graduated from Sheffield in England. He joined Goldman in 1995 as a partner and became head of global economics, commodities and strategy research in 2001. Since 2010 he's been chairman of its asset management division. O'Neill hasn't said what he plans next.
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