Hong Kong: Stock investors reeling from last year’s market mayhem may take some solace from practitioners of the ancient Chinese art of feng shui, who predict a calmer, if subdued, performance in the coming Chinese Year of the Ox.
“This Year of the Ox is an ‘earth’ year, when people will take a breather and reflect on what they should do after a turbulent 2008,” said Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo.
Practitioners of feng shui maintain the universe is made up of five elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—that define the collective mood in our environment.
Earth is the calmest of the elements and this year is a “yin earth” year as well as an ox year, symbolizing a more feminine energy, says Lo.
The Year of the Ox, which starts on 26 January, will be the most peaceful year globally since 2000, he says, but stock investors don’t need to rush into the market yet. “2009 will be a ‘pure earth’ year, which means fire will be missing so there will not be a lot of drive to push up the stock market.” Lo said.
The economic climate will still be tough and though stock markets might rise in the first half of this year, gains could peter out in the second half, Lo said.
“The market should still be quite low in the second half and that would be a good time to get in ahead of a recovery in 2010 (the Year of the Tiger),” he said.
The global outlook will be helped by the fact that incoming US President Barack Obama was born in a “yin earth” year, like president Abraham Lincoln. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou are also “yin earth” people.
Vincent Koh of the Singapore Feng Shui Centre agrees that financial markets will be subdued. “Don’t pick high-risk assets this year, be patient and don’t expect high returns.”
A report this month by Japanese research company Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd, however, warned that ox years are usually disastrous for stocks and Japan’s Nikkei stock index has fallen by an average 11.4% in each of the past five years of the ox.
Feng shui masters have a mixed record when it comes to market predictions. Lo forecast a stock market correction a year ago but also advised investors to put their money into property.
Charlie Chao, a leading feng shui expert in the Philippines, was quoted in a CLSA research note a year ago as warning of a possible global economic crisis in 2008. But he also forecast a better performance for the Philippine stock market. Manila stocks slumped 48% last year, reversing a 21% gain in 2007.
While financial markets should be calmer, Koh foresees the spread of disease and a spate of natural disasters, particularly in the northern hemisphere, with landslides, floods and earthquakes in store.
Kash Cheong in Singapore and Elaine Lies in Tokyo contributed to this story.