Hong Kong to welcome 2014 in style Tens of thousands of Hongkongers are expected to descend on the harbourfront this evening to welcome 2014 with a bang as the city stages a spectacular firework display against the backdrop of its iconic skyline. The celebrations will help mark the end of the "Hong Kong: Our Home" campaign, launched in April by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Festivities will be staged elsewhere, including Sha Tin and Times Square in Causeway Bay. Export prospects under scrutiny The Hong Kong Trade Development Council releases its preliminary findings on global retail sales over the Christmas season today. The findings are based on market intelligence gathered from the Council's worldwide network. Christmas sales in major overseas markets are viewed as a bellwether of Hong Kong's export prospects for the coming year. City state to hear prime minister's address Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make his televised New Year's Eve speech today. He is expected to give an estimate of the city state's economic performance this year. The government forecasts output to have grown by as much as 4 per cent, but tensions from the presence of nearly a million low-paid foreign workers, who drive its economy, boiled over this month in the worst riot in 40 years, involving hundreds of workers. Japan seeks warmer Russian relations Japan's deputy foreign minister, Shinsuke Sugiyama, and his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, meet in Tokyo today in the latest of a series of high level meetings between the two nations. The talks will focus on resolving territorial issues as well as bilateral economic co-operation. The neighbours remain at odds over a group of islands administered by Russia which were seized by Soviet troops at the end of the second world war, but their improving ties are in sharp contrast to Tokyo's deteriorating relations with Seoul and Beijing. Syria to miss weapons deadline A deadline expiring today for Syria to remove its most dangerous chemical weapons from the country is set to be missed. It is the first key milestone under a UN Security Council-backed deal arranged by Russia and the United States for the destruction of the regime's chemical arms stockpiles by the middle of next year. The UN has called on President Bashar al-Assad's regime to "intensify efforts" to meet deadlines. Brazil in race against time The host of next year's World Cup has pledged to make up lost time after the South American country admitted earlier that six stadiums still under construction - including the Sao Paulo venue to be used for the tournament's opening match - will not be ready by Fifa's original deadline that expires today.