Chinese New Year: What does the Year of the Monkey hold in store for financial markets?
Kung Hei Fat Choy! Or to put it another way, "Happy New Year!" But what does the Year of the Monkey hold in store for financial markets?
From this Monday, Chinese communities around the world will be celebrating the start of a new lunar year. In the Chinese calendar, ever year has its sign of the zodiac and 2016 is the Year of the Monkey – a "Fire Monkey" this time, to be precise.
The festivities begin on New Year’s Eve, Sunday, 7 February, and go on for up to a week, with many businesses closing down to allow employees to go home and celebrate with their families.
Celebrating the Year of the Monkey
Ken Morrison CA, managing director of Mazars in Hong Kong and chair of the CSS Hong Kong community, said: "The Lunar New Year is a big deal both in Hong Kong and the Mainland. For ourselves, a lucky day to start work in the New Year is 10 February and one of our partners will be coming to the office to open the door and send out a goodwill message to all the partners and staff."
Retired member Donald Nimmo agreed: "Lunar New Year in Hong Kong is, for the Chinese, like Christmas, New Year, Easter and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. It is a family time and the concept of Lai See, gifts of ‘lucky money’ in red envelopes, is all-pervading."
EY partner Gerry Redmond, also based in Hong Kong, said: "It’s traditional to have a lunch with your team and clients to celebrate the New Year.
Sharing your luck
"Small tokens of luck, the so-called 'red pockets' [lucky money] are given by married people and bosses to single people. It’s symbolic of sharing your luck with others."
John Williamson of Search Investment Group said: "For more than 50 years, our firm has held a celebratory Spring lunch and lai see is distributed to every member of staff by the chairman. These are traditional and very important customs."
Hong Kong broking firm CLSA produces an annual "Feng Shui Index", taking a tongue in cheek look at the year to come, focusing on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index. For the Year of the Monkey, CLSA predicts volatility at the start of the year, reflecting the monkey’s typically noisy entrance, followed by a mid-year slump and a recovery at the end of the year.
An unlucky year for some?
'Metal' and 'water' based sectors are destined to prosper - the former include silver and gold, autos, financials, gaming, transport and machinery – while oil and gas, utilities, technology, telecoms and the internet could be in for a tough year.
The Chinese horoscope also warns that Monkey years are unlucky for those born in a Monkey year (such as 1956, 1968, 1980 or 1992).
John Williams added: "According to the horoscopes, the Year of the Monkey will be a challenging year for the global economy. One should pay more attention to health and stay calm."
"Given the state of the world’s stock markets, this seems good advice to me!"