8 January 2020
Hong Kong will continue to shine despite all the turmoil. Photo: Reuters
Hong Kong will continue to shine despite all the turmoil. Photo: Reuters

Unlucky start to 2020? Make your own luck!

Hong Kong has had a bad start for 2020 as a?supposedly peaceful pro-democracy rally degenerated into scenes of violent clashes between police and protesters and a lucky draw promising millions of Hong Kong dollars in prizes crashed shortly after its launch.

The New Year’s Day march on Hong Kong Island drew some 1.03 million participants, according to?organizer?Civil Human Rights Front, but it soon turned into chaos as radical?anti-government?protesters blocked roads, smashed traffic lights, threw petrol bombs and vandalized HSBC cash machines.?

Organizers were forced to stop the march as police moved in, resulting in the arrest of about 400 people.

And so the new year appears to have in store more of the things we had hoped we had left behind in 2019.

Then there’s the “unlucky” draw which the Tourism Board had sponsored in a bid to lift the city’s mood, offering free air tickets and hotel stay as well as Apple iPhones and other enticing prizes to both residents and tourists.

As luck would have it, the online game?crashed minutes after it was launched, leaving millions of participants unable to complete their registration and join the draw.

That’s what usually happens when organizers only allow a short period of time for people to participate in an online system, which naturally results in congestion, although the Tourism Board initially blamed hackers for the fiasco.

Still,?some?1.63 million were able to log in and participate.

The not-so-auspicious start to the new year was also noticeable at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which saw the attendance in Shatin fall to 22,000, down 73 percent from the first-race crowd in 2019, no thanks to the continuing unrest and the sharp fall in mainland tourists.

Betting sales dropped to HK$1.58 billion, down 7.9 percent from a year ago, as the number of races slipped to 10 from 11 because the club wants to finish the races at 5 p.m. in view of the political event.

But punters will always be punters, and they still have a chance to win big by betting on tonight’s Mark Six. The snowball jackpot, however, is only HK$50 million, down 38 percent from the first snowball jackpot in 2019.

Meanwhile, punters might be delighted to find that several companies have performed well after their initial public offerings over the past three months in the world’s biggest IPO market, although many had stayed away from Chinese IPOs in the past year.

Sixteen firms will jump on the last IPO bandwagon before the Lunar New Year but it is doubtful if investors will continue to make profits from these new stocks.

Likewise, the stock markets in Hong Kong and China this year will have to play catch-up with the bigger markets in the United States and Europe, which performed better in 2019.

But how many times do we see an equity market stay strong for two years in a row, considering that US stocks under President Donald Trump surged close to 30 percent last year?

Good luck, guys!

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EJ Insight writer