IT IS FRUSTRATING when you encounter evidence of a perfect leading indicator for the stock market but get just snippets of press releases to tantalise you rather than the full statistical glory of an invaluable new investment tool. I am speaking, of course, of the semi-annual MasterCard International MasterIndex survey, the one that now shows consumer confidence in Hong Kong at an all-time low since it was started in 1993. On a scale in which zero represents most pessimistic and 100 most optimistic, the 400 people surveyed in Hong Kong at the end of last year were so pessimistic that we scored only 12.5 while consumers across the border came up with a score of 84.8. Now here comes the tantalising bit. The lowest previous score was 13.1 for the second quarter of 1998. Given that the results of the latest survey were disseminated in the media only yesterday, let us assume that you heard of those second-quarter 1998 results only on August 7, 1998, also one month and seven days later. You then applied that golden rule of investment and the media - it's in the price if it's in the press - and decided that if everyone was so gloomy there was a good chance that the pessimism was fully discounted in share prices. Thought leads to action. You immediately picked up the phone to your broker and told him to get you into the market. The record of this decision says you bought with the Hang Seng Index at 7,018, only a smidgen off it lowest point since 1993 . . . well done you. Exactly two years later you heard the MasterIndex survey for the second quarter of 2000 showed consumer confidence in Hong Kong at an all-time high of 74.2. You immediately ran for the phone. Sell all, you said, and you found you had sold with the index at 17,727, only a smidgen off its record high. Not bad, eh? You can now understand why I want to hear more. My previous top choice as a contrary indicator was Fortune magazine. At the bottom of a cyclical trough in the market, it once published a black-bordered front cover emblazoned with the words 'The Death of Hong Kong'. As a stockbroker at the time, I made my clients a lot of money by telling them to jump in at this clarion call of a 'buy' signal but, unfortunately, Fortune magazine does not do this sort of thing often enough. Time magazine and Business Week, also are superb contrary indicators. The MasterIndex survey, however, comes out twice a year and, from what I can see, gets both the top and the bottom of the market spot on. The New York magazines are only truly reliable when you are out bottom-picking. They always talk Hong Kong down, which makes it difficult to get a contrary signal at the top. The problem I have, however, is that I cannot seem to get an historical record of the MasterIndex survey as a nice clean table of numbers twice a year all the way back to 1993. Two out of two is a good score, but four out of four or six out of six would be better. Has it consistently been as reliable an indicator since 1993 as it has since 1998? I wish I were better at hunting and pecking through the Internet. All I can find is a reference here and an odd number there, but a nice clean table of survey results has proved elusive. Help me, please. Has anyone found it? This could prove a treasure trove to beat Aladdin's cave. It covers not only Hong Kong but 13 Asian markets. If it really is as good as it seems to be, all my investment worries are solved. Just check twice a year and I will have boundless time to learn to play golf. I itch to make that phone call to my broker. A score of only 12.5? It just has to be time to load up.