Watch out for last-minute shopping opportunities The countdown to end of the year festivities begins in earnest this week, but before investors uncork the bubbly to celebrate the passing of a good year, they may have to keep a wary eye out for last-minute business. There is the continuing worry about more bad news coming from the United States subprime mortgage crisis, of course. And investors will also remain wary of further tightening by Beijing after the latest inflation data showed year-on-year consumer price inflation is at an 11-year high. Then there is the meeting of Japan's central bankers to review interest rates. The Bank of Japan is expected to leave rates unchanged at 0.5 per cent in the face of uncertainty over how the US economic situation will play out early next year. World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick, meanwhile, is in China and will be meeting government officials until tomorrow. He has visited World Bank projects in Guangzhou, Chongqing and Sichuan, and he will be airing his thoughts to the press tomorrow. Top up with an IPO If you are short of money for Christmas shopping, there is still time to try your luck with the last few initial public offerings of the year, although picking winners has become considerably harder now than a few months ago. Uni-President China Holdings, the mainland branch of Taiwan's largest food and beverage conglomerate, will begin trading today. The company has priced its offering in the middle of the predicted range, raising about HK$3.7 billion. China National Materials (Sinoma), the mainland's biggest cement maker, will begin trading on Thursday after it raised US$538 million by pricing its shares at the top of the expected range, showing investors are still interested in firms that get their profits from building China's cities and infrastructure. BYD Electronic will also debut on Thursday after a rough share sale. The company ended up raising US$758 billion after having to cuts its offer price due to weak demand.