Wang Li, a self-employed trader, was sitting on a chair in a cavernous hall of one of Shanghai's big banks, watching intently the board with cross-rates for the US, Australian, Hong Kong and Canadian dollars, Japanese yen and Swiss francs. Green indicates the price is rising, red that it is falling and yellow that it is flat. 'The war is a gold mine for people like me. It will cause fluctuations in the currencies that only we know how to exploit,' he said. While the soldiers of the United States, Britain and Iraq fight for their lives in the baking deserts along the Euphrates, Mr Wang and his friends sit with their calculators in one hand and mobile phones in the other, working out how to squeeze a profit from fluctuations in the currencies. 'War means wider bands than in peacetime,' Mr Wang said. 'That is what gives us the opportunity. I trade US dollars, euros and yen. I have been doing this job full-time since 1998. I have capital of US$100,000 and make at least 10 per cent a year. 'Currently, I am heavy in US dollars, with 70 per cent of my capital in them. For that, I would prefer a quick war. But there are many factors weighing on the dollar.' His mobile gives him short messages, while in his pocket is a radio for the latest news from the war front. Down the stairs is a room set aside for individual foreign exchange traders, with electronic boards with the latest price information and computers around the wall, on which customers can check data. 'In Shanghai, you can trade foreign exchange on the telephone and over the Internet,' said Liu Guojin, a salesman who trades as a hobby. 'Bank interest rates are so low and we have so few alternatives for our foreign exchange. That is why I like to trade. 'Trading was heavy in the days immediately before the war started. Everyone knew it would begin but were not sure the exact time. War is good because it causes changes in prices. In peacetime, things are too stable. It is hard to make a profit. 'Most people think a quick war will be good for the US dollar but it is hard to say how long it will last. The euro is more stable. I will trade the US dollar against currencies other than the euro.' A speculator in the eastern city of Yangzhou made US$1,700 from foreign exchange trading on Thursday, the first day of the war, the Shanghai-based International Finance News reported yesterday. The trader, named Xu, was at his computer well before the war began and completed 20 transactions during day, trading Canadian dollars and Swiss francs in the morning and euros and Australian dollars in the afternoon. He made the trades by Internet through his account with the Bank of China in Shanghai. 'In the morning, fluctuations were not very clear and the euro was 1.053 [against the dollar], its lowest point. It climbed 100 points by three in the afternoon. The basic reason was that the US attack on Iraq has no legal approval,' he told the newspaper. 'Even if the war ends soon, it will not be very good for the dollar. There is a real possibility of terrorism on the US mainland, which will have a big impact on the dollar.' On the streets of Shanghai, life continued as normal. Outside the bank, newspapers pinned up on public boards with detailed coverage of the war attracted large crowds. 'This is an illegal war,' said Zhou Jun, a migrant worker from Anhui. 'It is the common people of Iraq who will suffer. The US wants to be a superpower and rule the world. Will we be next?'