Friday, February 6, 2009

Hong Kong in focus -- Signs of recovery

As the work came to a close the major news agencies (websites) of Asia was busy reporting about U.S unemployment reaching the highest levels since 1974. Check out the following articles from major news sites of Singapore, Australia and China to read more.

US axed 598,000 jobs -- The Strait Times (Singapore)
US job losses biggest since 1974 -- The Australian
US unemployment rates rises to highest level 16 years -- Xinhua (China)

However there was good news to go around at the end of the week for Hong Kong. For starters home sales in the luxury property market in Hong Kong are rising.

Big deal you might say? Well, in major cities of the world that have the ability to attract global talent like Hong Kong does (NY, London, Paris, Tokyo, etc), prices in the luxury property market are a pretty good gauge of both a over-heating economy and also for an economy “getting back on its feet.”
If people are starting to buy again, it means the perception is prices have bottomed to a level where demand and confidence is returning.

“Sales of Hong Kong luxury homes rose to their highest in six months in January, indicating that prices may have stabilized as buyers seek bargains, according to data by Centaline Property Agency Ltd.” Yes a good sign indeed. Click here to read a more comprehensive story on this development from Bloomberg.

Hong Kong stocks also finished the week off higher, rising the most in over a week on speculation the U.S will announce a stimulus plan and help to alleviate the financial crisis.

“The Hang Seng Index added 476.14, or 3.6 percent, to close at 13,655.04, its biggest jump since Jan. 29, and bringing its advance this week to 2.8 percent. The gauge has dropped 5.1 percent this year, extending 2008’s slump of 48 percent, the biggest annual drop since 1974. It’s valued at 11 times estimated earnings, down from 18.7 times at the beginning of last year.” Reported by Bloomberg
in this article.

Here's a view of how the Hang Seng (Hong Kong's major stock index) has preformed this past week. Not too bad right?

If anything has been learned from this financial crisis it is that news can turn ugly as quickly as it turns good. More updates to come after we see how the markets play out next week.