SOLAR eclipses are tricky chaps, seemingly the cause of panic and superstition all over Asia - with many along the lines of great star beasts coming to eat the sun. We prefer the Tahitian belief that the sun and moon are making love and new stars will be born as a result. Feng shui master Koon Lung warned a colleague that trouble was on the horizon for local share investors. Apparently, tomorrow is a North day but the early afternoon is South, creating an unhealthy opposition. The master said today could be very bad for shares, but even if it was not, then a big drop could be expected in 10 days or a fortnight. We shall see but, historically, there has been no record of eclipses causing bother for the local market. In the past 20 years there have been six solar eclipses visible from the territory, according to the Royal Observatory's C.M. Tam. On most of the days in question, the market had risen. The most recent visible eclipse was on December 24, 1992 - 'Buyers splash out $1.4 billion on 124-point Christmas spree' was the Postheadline after the 2.33 per cent rise. March 18, 1988 was the next and the market was up 26 points. On September 23, 1987, records tumbled in hectic trading as investors went on a spending binge, sending the Hang Seng soaring 67.58 points to a new high of 3,763 points, Business Post said. Ou sont les hyperbole d'antan? Of course, the next month things did go just slightly pear-shaped. On June 11, 1983, it was a Saturday and the market was closed. February 11, 1980 was a six-point gain. There was also a visible eclipse on October 2, 1978. Unfortunately, Lai See records are stored on the other side of the territory and all the executives at Hang Seng Index Services were at a party yesterday afternoon, so we don't know what happened. Knowing our luck, only the ones in October are bad news. Case dismissed LEGAL department types have some funny ideas. We sent a series of questions for them to answer under the Code on Access to Information. Question one was: Can we have a gander at Warwick 'Wocker' Reid's personnel file? Answer: No. Apparently, it would divert public resources for them to do so, inhibit the frankness of discussion in the Government, harm or prejudice the management of the public service and invade Wocker's privacy. 'However you may be interested in the following data extracted from the file', they say and give me his birthday, his dates of appointment and leaving and reason for leaving - 'dismissal'. Funnily enough, we are not interested at all. What we wanted was all the stuff by his superiors saying what a splendid chap Wocker was, how he was destined to be the next Attorney-General, how he deserved loads more dosh etc, etc. Costly query WE also asked the Legal Department how much was paid out to the most expensive counsel briefed out last year. They claim this would harm negotiations or the competitive position of the Government. This answer in itself is more than just slightly odd. If, for example, we were to sell a fish tank to the Government for Anson Chan's office, the deal would be fully disclosed in the Government Gazette. How can legal advice possibly be any different? Numbers game COOPER & Lybrand seems to be in favour of a draft of the framework for the preparation and presentation of financial statements by the Hong Kong Society of Accountants, now under consultation. The new principles outlined say financial statements should be comprehensible, relevant, reliable and comparable, according to C&L. And what does this say about Hong Kong standards right now, people? Bottom line BARINGS Securities has started covering a group of 17 smaller companies and has initiated coverage with a report called 'Taking the plunge', a fitting title for bottom feeders. Smith New Court's P.J. King, who has been tracking some of the darker recesses of the local market for some months now, is now entering a sell cycle. Some of his tips have done very nicely, but the context has to be that HSBC has returned over 70 per cent this year after investing dividends at 5.9 per cent, according to Bloomberg. It also has to be borne in mind, as Barings' piece says, that the bottom third of the market is just one per cent of market capitalisation. That means that while just half a dozen punters can move some stocks, it can be very easy to get in and very hard to get out. Perhaps P.J.'s punters will sell to Morris' punters. And by the time Morris is selling, another brokerage will have spotted the movement and initiated coverage. After all, investing is all about cycles, right? Buy or sell? WITHOUT nipping over to the PRC to kick the tyres of the company's Advanced Materials Division, examining the 200-day moving average, candle chart, chicken entrails or other technical aids, use your skill and judgment to say whether this firm is a buy or a sell. Wingsung Stationery fell six per cent to 21.6 US cents, with 13,000 shares traded. The company didn't print a 1994 annual report, citing a shortage of working capital.