Football: World Cup stirs mutterings about impact on Asian markets

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The Independent Football

Some strategists believe the World Cup can negatively impact stock markets, but dealers in Asia are confident local investors will be watching their bottom lines more than football scores. Across the region, matches will be broadcast outside regular office hours, meaning workers will not down tools to watch.

But with games shown across Asia late evening or in the early hours of the morning, there are concerns about bleary-eyed brokers turning up for work late, tired or not at all, and investors being too preoccupied to focus.

Lee Jae-Man, an analyst with Tong Yang Securities in Seoul, said markets could be impacted, but not in South Korea despite the team being at the World Cup.

"The World Cup is expected to impact the markets because some investors will stay up late at night or early into the morning. However, I don't think our markets will be swayed much by this year's World Cup," he said.

During the 2002 World Cup, the Stock Exchange of Thailand slipped 4.34 percent while in Singapore, when England played Nigeria at the same tournament, turnover on the market plunged on a lack of buying interest.

But that event was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea with matches kicking off during trading hours.

Seiichi Suzuki, a strategist at Tokai Tokyo Securities, said that if any markets are affected, they would more likely be in Europe.

"Those in Europe may get restless because they are in a time zone the same as or close to the host nation," he said.

"But we in Japan will have to focus on markets and our duties at least during a day, especially when you see such volatility in the global markets."

Australia is another team from the region that has qualified for the World Cup and while interest Down Under is expected to be big, IG Markets market strategist Ben Potter said he did not expect a huge impact on equities.

"Asians love their soccer so they will be watching it carefully," he said.

"But I can't see volumes being decreased."

Yu Zuojie, an analyst with Shanghai Securities, will stay up late to watch the games, but in such a volatile economic climate he said the focus of traders would remain firmly on their jobs.

"There have been theories that the global stock markets tend to fall during the World Cup as investors lack trading interest and cut their positions," he said.

"But for the Chinese market, I think it's just a coincidence even if that was the case, given that China's market is always more volatile than most others.

"This year's World Cup is less likely to have an impact on the domestic market than previous ones because there are too many other factors to closely watch, such as inflation, and possible news about China's exchange rate reforms."

Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist at RAM Holdings Bhd in Kuala Lumpur, agreed that any impact would be limited, with noone prepared to risk their job by not showing up or lacking focus on daily market life.

"Corporate life will continue, if not they will get fired," he said.

"It will not change the investment pattern but may enliven the routine day of some people who may indulge in small bets."

"But not everyone will be caught up with the football mania."