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Asia Economy Last Updated: Jan 31, 2014 - 5:58 AM

Chinese New Year of the Wood Horse and Finfacts
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jan 29, 2014 - 8:50 AM

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The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival as it is more commonly known as, on the mainland, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is also termed the Lunar New Year and on Friday, January 31, the Year of the Wood Horse begins. In the old days, people liked to call an able person 'Qianli Ma,' a horse that covers a thousand li a day (one li is about 500 metres). From our base in Malaysia where Chinese account for about 30% of the population, Finfacts will have restricted coverage on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, a brokerage and investment group based in Hong Kong , has launched its 20th annual CLSA Feng Shui Index (CLSA FSI) - - a tongue-in-cheek financial forecast for the coming Year of the Wood Horse, with a focus on the Hang Seng Index, key market sectors, world leaders and celebrities, and each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. All based on little more than a whisper of wind (feng) and a babble of water (shui).

"How do we see the bourse under the influence of the Horse? We conclude that this Pony is un toro in toto - pure bull from teeth to tail. Its fortune chart may not be the best balanced, but it is full of Fire - the intrinsic element that’s widely regarded as the driver of investor sentiment.

This is especially so for the Hang Seng Index, as Fire is also its “lucky element”. We uncovered so many unexpected connections, coincidences and links between the HSI and this Wood Horse that we discern a definite Casablanca connection - ‘the beginning of a beautiful friendship’. And one that should be very rewarding. Our “pure bull” forecast sees the index hit 28,105.

Positive, powerful and race-paced - there’s much to like about the Horse. It’s also well positioned: At No.7 in the zodiac, the Horse kicks off the second half of the 12-year cycle. Traditionally, the vital force or energy known as qi is considered to be spent or stale half-way through a cycle - the Horse heralds the arrival of the so-called second wind - a burst of invigorating fresh qi.

Once again, this year’s CLSA Feng Shui Index features a month-by-month guide to the HSI, the outlook for key sectors, four-sphere forecasts for each zodiac sign, our popular Hong Kong property guide, and fates of some famous faces – the likes of US Fed chair apparent Janet Yellen, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Alibaba’s Jack Ma Yun and futbol capital Rio de Janeiro.

Our Sector-selector Element Detector suggests we’ll see the best performances from businesses associated with Wood (retail, soft commodities, plantations . . . plantations?) and also Fire (the likes of internet, tech, telecoms, some oil & gas and power suppliers).

Among the zodiac signs, the Horse favours Tigers, Sheep (Goats) and Dogs. Those that may be in for a more challenging ride are Rats, Cows and Rabbits. But then pluck beats luck every time. Kung hei fat choi! And may the Horse be with you."

Besides, being the world's most populous country, it's no surprise that China has a big diaspora and the ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia are termed as the people from Nanyang - -  the South Sea. The Chinese use practical  location names e.g. Beijing is North City; Nanjing - -  the capital city until 1421 is South City; Tokyo is called East City and the Japanese word for East Sea is Tokai.

Most Chinese can speak Mandarin and their regional dialect. The people of China's industrial heartland, the Pearl River delta province of Guangdong, north of Hong Kong, speak Cantonese as Hongkies (residents of HK)  do. Napoleon Bonaparte had a role to play in the predominance of Hokkien, the dialect of the southern region of Fujian province (north of Guangdong) in two separate islands in Southeast Asia: Penang, northwest of Peninsular Malaysia (south of Thailand) and Singapore, off the southern tip of Malaysia.

Napoleon made his brother King of Holland in 1806 and in London, the exiled Prince of Orange had entrusted protection to the British for the Dutch colony of the East Indies (modern Indonesia) and the fortified trading post of Malacca on the coast of south Malaysia. However, Robert Townsend Farquhar, the British governor of Penang, ordered the destruction of the Dutch fort in Malacca as he saw it as a trading rival for Penang. Chinese Hokkien settlers were urged to move to Penang.

Some years later, Stamford Raffles of the East India Company, selected the island of Temasek (Sea Town in Javanese, now known as Singapore, the Lion City) as a better location for a trading post than Penang and Raffles used a succession dispute embroiling the Sultanate of Johor to get the necessary local agreement. Meantime, the part of the Hokkien population, who had not moved north to Penang, crossed the Straits to the island, as did the Japanese in early 1942 to receive the greatest surrender of British forces in history, from General Arthur Percival, who had commanded the Essex Regiment in Bandon, my hometown, in 1919.

So after that detour:

Gōng xǐ fā cái ! - - the traditional Chinese New Year's greeting in Mandarin means may prosperity be with you.

I'm heading to Ipoh, Wednesday, which had a tin mining boom in the 1930s.

Last week, The Washington Post had a feature on the city:

An accidental trip to Ipoh, Malaysia

© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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