The Week In Numbers: Much Ado About Nothing

The Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI) slumped to a five-month low of 3,295 points on Tuesday, this week, It fell on worries that some Singapore stocks might have to yield to China “A” shares, when MSCI reviews its Emerging Market Index.

As it turned out, it was much ado about nothing. Chinese shares were deemed unsuitable for inclusion, at the moment. So, the market rebounded strongly the next day. But at least it gave city scribblers something to write about, worry about and talk about.

The much-awaiting strategy update by HSBC had everyone on tenterhooks this week. The UK’s biggest bank said it would cut up to 50,000 jobs worldwide, through redundancies and the sale of its businesses in Brazil and Turkey.

The big unknown, namely, whether the bank will relocate his headquarters, still remains just that – an unknown. But the bank, whether deliberately or unintentionally, gave away some big clues.

It said its new domicile would need to have a strong well-respected regulator; a fair and transparent tax system and high quality people. The bank also said it is stepping up investment in Asia and focusing on places including China’s Pearl River Delta. Hmmm….Where could CEO Mr Gulliver be referring to?

There was good news from Japan this week. The Japan Cabinet Office said the economy expanded at an annualised rate of 3.9% in the first three months of the year. The improvement was driven by capital investments. But economists are now worried that the economy might have slowed since the end of March. Economists, it seems, always have something to worry about.

Stock market investors were not unduly worried, though, as the Nikkei 225 hovered above 20,000 points. Since the start of the year, the Lyxor ETF Japan (SGX: CW4), which tracks the Topix index, has climbed 15%.

It took Singapore Exchange (SGX: S68) just 3-1/2 months to find a replacement for outgoing boss Magnus Bocker. The new man at the helm will be Loh Boon Chye, who will take over from 14 July.

The bonus number this week is 1,000,000. The Supreme Court of China said over a million cases have been filed following a new law that makes it harder for Chinese courts to reject lawsuits. One lawsuit was filed by a man in Shanghai after he claimed Chinese actress Zhao Wei stared at him too intently through his TV set.

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