Analyst forecasts problems for index

THE Hang Seng Index, which is creeping back to the record highs posted in November last year, is heading for trouble, says an international technical analyst.

Mr David Bowden, who says he can call markets to the minute and lives in a mountain home in an Australian tropical rain forest - paid for with the proceeds of one week's trading - spreads his gloomy prognosis around many of the world's markets.

Like Hongkong, many markets hit record highs in the September-November period, and over narrow time frames. If the next few weeks reveal double or triple tops over the first months of the year, Mr Bowden predicts there will be ''a lot of trouble''.

He said: ''This is particularly true in the case of the Hang Seng and [London's] FTSE indices. Their extreme volatility is a sign of a change of trend - and they have both experienced record highs in the last 12 months.

''Should these scenarios develop and the current lows be taken out, we can expect a very tough couple of years, no matter what our politicians tell us. The taking out of the yearly lows will be the final confirmation signal.'' Mr Bowden, who will speak at a seminar sponsored by Asian Business Press on May 4, used his cycle theory - squaring up trading ranges over time frames - to forecast highs and lows during the global crash of 1987 and during the Gulf War.

The system evolves from the methods of American broker and trader W.D. Gann, whose 50-year career earned him US$50 million.

Mr Bowden does not trade other people's money, and focuses largely on stock indices and, to a lesser extent, currencies to generate his own income.

Despite his claims as a technical analyst, he quickly switches to emotion when this comes to the fore - at times of major tops and bottoms.

He prefers to deal in future contracts for similar reasons - dubbing them a less emotional purchase than physical markets.