Five tables of tossers

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February marked the start of the Chinese Year of the Dog – it is a moment when it is common for analysts to take a light-hearted look at what Chinese astrology might mean for the markets in the year ahead.

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CLSA’s Feng Shui Index is the best known for this, but this year we highlight Kelvin Tay, Asia regional CIO of UBS, partly because his predictions last year proved remarkably accurate. 

This particular Year of the Dog, he explains, is symbolized by Yang Earth sitting on top of Earth Dog, which means a whole lot of earthiness (and apparently a heightened risk of natural disasters like earthquakes). 

In market terms, this ‘double Earth’ element anchors global growth, keeps volatility low to medium, and suggests a positive outlook for consumer discretionary, technology, energy, finance and media (something to do with wood and fire), but bad news for industrials, mining, shipping, autos and utilities (something to do with an absence of water and metal). No, we don’t quite follow the reasoning either, but Tay sounds very convincing.

UBS revealed Tay’s analysis at a media lunch that kicked off with the lo hei or prosperity toss, which is a Chinese New Year custom particularly prevalent in Singapore. 

Various ingredients are added one by one to a noodle dish in the middle of a table, with an explanation for what each ingredient hopefully means for everybody’s wealth (example: “Now we add the oil, symbolizing return on investment”).

Then everyone at the table dives in with chopsticks and hurls the noodles in the air while shouting about their hopes for prosperity. 

At the lunch, the toss took place on five tables at the same time. Perhaps it’s a reflection of seniority that UBS Wealth Management Asia chief executive Edmund Koh was the only one to toss so hard the noodles hit the ceiling.