New year sees much trading but alas little movement Now that we're through the first two full weeks of the year, a time when investors are usually just starting to stir out of their holiday slumber, the Hong Kong stock market has been abuzz with activity. Trading turnover has been unusually high, topping out around the highest weekly levels since last summer. The IPO pipeline is starting to churn again with mega-flotations set to come on stream, and Beijing's abrupt deliberations on monetary policy have sent investors to-ing and fro-ing over interest-rate sensitive stocks like financials and developers. But after all that, the Hang Seng Index has barely budged. The benchmark is down just 1 per cent in the new year. Investors may remember, however, that appearances can be deceiving in the market during this time of year. The blue-chips index seemed headed for another tumble last year after plunging 11.9 per cent through the first two full weeks of the year. It then proceeded to climb in nine of the next 11 months en route to its best performance in a decade. So it may still be too early to read the tea leaves on the market just yet. Shampoo maker shows lustre Bawang International has carved its niche in the shampoo market around the concept of retention. The Guangzhou-based shampoo maker sells products that are said to help prevent hair-loss through a unique mixture of herbs like ginger and gingko. So shareholders and loyal brand-subscribers could be forgiven for their surprise yesterday after the herbal shampoo maker announced that's its parent had struck a deal to give away a 6.9 per cent stake in the company as the parent has hired HSBC to place 200 million shares at HK$5.10 apiece. However, the parent, which is beneficially owned by chairman Chen Qiyuan (above) and chief executive Wan Yuhua, will still retain a 65.4 per cent stake in the company once the deal is completed. Bawang's shares may be ripe for profit-taking after already doubling from their July 2009 listing price. Besides, even the best heads of hair need a cut once in a while. Wine puts marriage to shame All's fair in love and war, but how about 'All's fair with love and wine?' The wine department at Market Place by Jasons in Repulse Bay has come up with an innovative sales campaign that has been paying dividends. Bottles of the 2006 Chateau Tour des Termes have been flying off the shelves since the start of the holidays. A four-star recommendation from a leading wine magazine may have coaxed some customers into the purchase. But apparently the real dealmaker has been wine steward Vida Talosig, who emphatically declares she 'loves the wine more than her husband'. We're guessing Vida is using a figure of speech there, but at the very least, we hope she pours her husband a tall glass of the Tour des Termes so he can drown his sorrows over it. The danger of being Buffett The trouble with being a sage is that you tend to get name-dropped a lot. Take Warren Buffett. Purists would argue that there's only one sage of Omaha, but others may beg to differ. Toronto fund manager Weizhen Tang, for example, claims to be China's Warren Buffett, according to a recent report. He's obviously competing with our own Lee Shau-kee, who local media have dubbed 'Asia's Warren Buffett'. We'd love to hear from anyone who can introduce us to Europe's Warren Buffett or perhaps a Middle Eastern investment-doppelganger. Interestingly, Tang spread himself thin and also billed himself as a Chinese Donald Trump. The last thing this continent needs is another squillionaire with bad hair and bling. Bankers grist for political mill Our quote of the week comes from the ongoing debate in the United States over a plan to raise revenue by taxing major banks. Doug Elliott, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, was asked about how much public support US President Barack Obama could mobilise toward a levy on the financial firms. 'The politics on this is really quite easy,' Elliot said. 'The public would be supportive of anything up to shooting and burning the bankers.'