Fingers crossed that snake slithers into positive territory


Asia Briefing:Fortune tellers reckon the Year of the Snake, which began last weekend, could be volatile, but hopefully its venom will not bring disaster to the financial markets as it has in previous snake years.

In fact, key indices could slither higher this year on the back of growing optimism, say the feng shui experts.

Feng shui, which translates as “wind water”, is the Chinese practice of arranging objects and choosing dates to improve luck.

Snake years are traditionally associated with chaotic events and disorder – the Wall Street Crash and the start of the Great Depression took place in a snake year of 1929, as did the September 11th, 2001, attacks, and the brutal government crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Snake years have been characterised by lower endings on stock markets – the three most recent snake years saw Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index finish lower, down 33.5 per cent in 2001.

Feng shui index

At this time every year, the brokerage CLSA releases a “feng shui index”. The report is based on the signs of the Chinese zodiac and features lighthearted predictions for financial markets. It is written with tongue firmly in cheek, but CLSA’s feng shui analyst, or “sorcerer’s apprentice”, Mariana Kou, believes there are signs of optimism.

“We have got the fire element so we’re pretty hopeful,” said Kou, predicting a “decent finish” to the end of the year.

She said there was “good balance on the five fundamental elements” – fire, water, earth, metal and wood – which should rein in any significant upheaval.

“As befits ‘skin-shedders’, snake years are marked by major transformation and change – and sometimes great upheaval,” the broker said, while emphasising that its research is based on “bottom up” fundamentals.

Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo Hang-lap is also decidedly upbeat on the outlook for the Snake year.

“We will see a lot of positive energy coming and people will have more confidence in economic recovery,” says Lo, saying that this year’s variety of snake is a relatively mild, less venomous kind.

“The stock market is already going up. Even stronger fire will come in 2014, the Year of the Horse, and that means longer-term recovery could be quite substantial and will last for a few years.

“It’s more moderate, humble and patient,” Lo adds, saying that he is bullish on the years prospects for the world as a whole and sees good opportunities for economic growth.

Geomancer projections aside, China trade data from January showed exports gained 25 per cent from a year earlier and imports rose 28.8 per cent.

So the analysts who don’t rely on feng shui believe recovery is on track in the world’s second-biggest economy.

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