CLSA in seismic shift over stock of 'world's local bank' CLSA has announced it has changed its view on HSBC for the first time in six years, upgrading the stock from 'underperform' to 'outperform'. 'Having held a negative view on the world's third-largest bank for more than half a decade, CLSA's head of regional banks research, Daniel Tabbush, now believes HSBC is at a turning point,' we are told in a press release to mark the occasion. 'Negative on HSBC for more than five years, during which time HSBC shares underperformed the HSI and FTSE indices and [rival] Standard Chartered, Tabbush believes HSBC is at a turning point,' we are told a few lines later with more than just a hint of triumphalism. So make a note everybody. Where were you when CLSA changed its view on HSBC. Did the earth move for you? Double Standards Want to get information out of Standard Chartered? Just hop on a plane to London. Or, even easier, dial into a London-based conference call. Chairman John Peace, when asked in a Hong Kong press conference what sort of joint ventures Standard Chartered was discussing with Agricultural Bank of China, after investing HK$3.9 billion in the rural lender's initial public offering last month, effectively told reporters to mind their own business. 'Our relationship with [Agricultural Bank] is an excellent one. We have had numerous meetings in recent months.' Yet, Peace added, the contents of those meetings were confidential. Still, at a later press conference in London, which Lai See's spies accessed incredibly easily by dialling into the widely advertised conference call, Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands could not be more effusive about those closed-door, supposedly secret meetings. He revealed happily the lender wants to develop credit products for Agricultural Bank's SME customers, and that his Hong Kong whizz-kids were working hard on a suite of financial markets products for their new strategic partners to sell. We hope Standard Chartered's two top bosses get their messages straight for the next media briefing and that their investor meetings are more co-ordinated. Moratorium on oratory Reporters gathered at yesterday's lunch hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors to hear Charles Li Xiaojia (pictured), the chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, speak, came away underwhelmed by his oratory. He spoke vaguely about the possibility of changing the trading hours and was again vague about the need for reform. However, he did attract some attention when he declared: 'We are like children sucking on a milk bottle,' referring to HKEx's dependence on the mainland for new IPOs. 'We must change.' His conclusion struck a chord with listeners, too, as he said: 'I know this is a vision lacking in detail.' Perhaps his speech writer went missing. Mine-deaths retort surprises A month ago, China's premier, exasperated by the shockingly high number of mining deaths, ordered mining officials to go down into the shafts with workers in an effort to improve safety. It's sad to say that this ploy has not worked. More than 100 people were killed in mines in the past month; 21 died this week in two mining accidents. Associated Press said state media noted with surprising sharpness that none of the dead was a mine manager or boss. 'Who knew that every boss who goes into the shaft is a god: flooding, explosions, whatever it is, they can always fly free,' Xinhua said in a pointed commentary. The editorial came after a weekend disaster when a flooded mine trapped two dozen workers in northern China. Only two people escaped; both were managers. At Monday's news conference near the mine in Heilongjiang province, a reporter asked if the managers had even been inside the mine at all. By Tuesday, managers and the mine's owners were in police custody, China National Radio reported. But it wasn't clear why. 'After the accident, only the bosses miraculously emerge. What could this mean?' the Xinhua commentary added. Film targets peak audience Property agent Midland Realty has thoughtfully produced a series of DVDs on the Hong Kong property market. It is for Chinese audiences only and the title roughly translates as 'A clearer picture of the market'. The series comprises discussions with various experts on topics such as future housing supply, mortgage rates, property investment, affordability and legal matters. The DVDs are being given away free. Cynics have suggested that the idea behind them is that, armed with this new wisdom, people will feel better about buying at current levels - the highest since the 1996 peak.