Wall Street in Saigon

April 7, 2007

 
07:39′ 01/04/2007 (GMT+7)

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Investors sitting at a pavement teashop discussing changes in the stock market.

VietNamNet Bridge – The two words “stock market” have never been mentioned as much as today, at office talks, in restaurants, and during family meals. Along with the ‘movement’ of investing in stocks, the number of people flocking to securities trading companies on Nguyen Cong Tru road in District 1, HCM City, is increasing, turning the quiet streets into a “Wall Street” now.

 

The heat of the VN-index dance is not only burning investors but also the pavement of “Wall Street”. Securities have made impacts on the people who live on the pavement there, from retired men to tea sellers and vehicle keepers. The life of the residents on “Wall Street” is also very hot like the bourse. 

Taking advantage of each centimeter of land 

Investors flock to the “Wall Street” of Saigon very early, one hour before securities trading floors open, making the narrow Nguyen Cong Tru road even narrower. 

Toan, an investor, said: “The first thing is you must come early to have room for your motorbike. Vehicle keepers here are very picky.” 

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Mr Bui Van Dong, 50, a taxi motorbike driver on ‘Wall Street’, is reading a stock bulletin while waiting for passengers. He said: “I don’t have money to buy stocks but I try to read stock news to be able to talk with my customers. My customers are middle-aged women who love to talk about stocks. If I know stock information, they will always ask me to drive them and on the way they can talk with me about the stock market during the day.

All parking lots are overcrowded. Vehicle keepers frigidly wave their hands to drive customers out of their parking lots though the price for keeping a motorbike here is VND5,000, 150% more than normal. 

The fronts of commodious houses which once were shops have also become parking lots. Owners of houses in alleys are also trying to make their houses become parking lots. They even hire staff to go to the street inviting investors to leave their vehicles in their houses. 

“Land here has never been taken full advantage of like today. I want to lease my house but my wife insists on using it as a parking lot. Such a house can bring about VND500,000 to VND1 million (US$30-60) a day,” said Mr Tai, a retired man on “Wall Street”. 

After the first trading session of the day, investors overflow into cafes near trading floors to talk about securities.  

Ms Tu, the owner of a café near the Bao Viet Securities Trading Company, said: “I have sold coffee here for nearly 20 years but I have never seen such large numbers of customers. Previously my café only served staff of banks.” 

On the sidewalk near the SSI company, Ms Lan made the best of ‘free time’ to read information about the stock market. Hearing what she says to her customers like an investor, nobody would think that she is the owner of a pavement teashop. 

A man said recklessly: “You don’t invest in stocks so please don’t pretend to be a professional…” 

Ms Lan burst out, which made the man shy: “How do you know that I don’t buy securities? If you don’t believe I can tell you the price of each kind of stock and tell you which rise and which fall.” 

“I see many people earn a lot of money from securities so I have also poured out all of my savings for the past ten years to buy stocks. I hope to earn money for my old age. Stocks make fat profit!” Ms Lan said. 

Not only tea sellers on the pavement but also Ha, a fruit peddler, earn a lot from “Wall Street”.  

“I could only earn VND20,000 ($1.25) a day from my fruit handcart though I had to go everywhere. Now I earn hundreds of thousands of dong just around securities trading floors. I plan to save money for several months more to buy stocks,” Ha said. 

Moving with “Wall Street” 

Small talk over coffee on “Wall Street” every morning by residents is very boisterous, like the atmosphere inside trading floors.  

“If the stock fever continues this street will sooner or later change completely. A lot of services for investors will be offered,” Hung, a local resident, predicted. 

Not daring to invest all of his money into stocks, Mr Nam, a retired man, hasn’t ignored the opportunity to become rich on ‘gold street’.  

He said: “I plan to mortgage my house to have money to turn it into a café for investors.” 

In the afternoon, when investors who sell their shares in the morning carry bags of money home, conversations between women on “Wall Street” are more boisterous. 

Ms Huong, the owner of a small kiosk in a local market, complained: “I am impatient seeing people carry bags of money from the stock market while my husband is still emotionless. He is so sluggish! I’ll sleep separately tonight to let him know my anger.” 

Not only Huong but several women here use this way to ‘force’ their husbands to go to the bourse. 

Mr N, a victim of securities, lamented: “The spousal relations are also hot along with the burning of the stock market. I’m a state employee and my wife has a small shop at home. We have neither money nor understanding of the stock market. The house is our life asset but she wants to mortgage it to have money for stock trading. I can’t understand her….” 

The wife of Mr M, a taxi motorbike driver on ‘Wall Street’, said: “He has not given me a coin since early this year. I asked him and he said that he saves money to buy stocks. He told me that some people become billionaires in only one day. I want to be like them but I’m very worried.” 

Residents on ‘Wall Street’ are dancing the hourly movements of the VN-Index dance. Family, neighbour relations are also burning along with numbers on the electronic boards of the securities trading floor. 

(Source: Tuoi Tre)

Published on TaipeiTimes
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/worldbiz/archives/2006/05/29/2003310617

LATEST FAD: Coffeeshop chatter in Vietnam used to focus on real estate. Now, with the nation's major stock index up 80 percent this year, stocks are the obsession

AFP , HO CHI MINH CITY
Monday, May 29, 2006,Page 10

Investors watch stock price index at a securities office in Ho Chi Minh city on Friday.
PHOTO: AFP

Vietnam's stock exchange has outpaced every other Asian bourse this year as investors in a country with a passion for betting have discovered the newest game in town — equity trading.

Eager to cash in on booming economic growth of 8.4 percent last year, the urban middle class has fuelled nascent exchanges in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and a flourishing "grey" market of as-yet unlisted stocks.

The HCMC Securities Trading Center, set up in the communist-ruled country in 2000, is still in its infancy, with just 37 listed companies and a market capitalization of US$1.94 billion.

But it's growing rapidly: trading has exploded in a share market that was worth just US$250 million a year ago. So far this year, the VN Index has gained over 80 percent, closing up 0.4 percent at 545.39 points on Friday.

Studying the numbers recently on the electronic board of a major broker, Saigon Securities Inc, was Nguyen Quoc Truong, 49, a restaurant owner who said he has invested 5 million dong (US$300) so far.

Truong said he understands only the basics of stock-trading and sometimes takes advice from his teenage nephew while sticking to simple, prudent rules.

"The market goes down when many people sell, and it rises when many people buy," he said. "I choose the biggest company. It's safer."

"With a lottery ticket," he added, "you have less chance to win."

Truong is part of a new wave of rookie investors discovering the rules of capitalism in Vietnam which hopes to join the WTO this year. Without access to company reports or an aggressive financial press, most investors rely on rumors, friends' advice and gut feelings.

"Most people buy and sell stocks without analysis, without caring for the company's performance and financial results," a 31-year-old woman investor in Hanoi said. "Trading stocks for them is just like gambling."

And gambling, many Vietnamese will admit, is a national obsession — whether it's on card games, buffalo fights, European football or the wildly popular and illegal so de game, a bet on the last two numbers of the state lottery.

So it comes as little surprise that the number of investors on the HCMC market has shot up from 20,000 in January to 50,000 today.

In Ho Chi Minh City, many people now hotly debate the latest news on what state-owned enterprise will equitize next, or which bank may be targeted by a foreign giant.

"Before, in coffee shops, people were talking about real estate," said Doan Viet Dai Tu, managing partner of investment and consultant group Open Asia. "Now they talk about the stock exchange."

Hoa, a 45-year-old mother of three, said, "I gamble so that I can invest in my children's studies," referring to stock trading. "I look at the Internet and take into account information gathered by my friends."

In a bid to calm the red-hot market, the finance ministry recently told state banks to tighten credit for share purchases, fearing a market downturn will lead to a wave of bad loans.

Many shares are also traded on the "grey" over-the-counter market, where people put their money on whatever unlisted company is thought to be the next big thing.

6/1/2006

VIETNAM'S stock exchange has outpaced every other Asian bourse this year as investors in a country with a passion for betting have discovered the newest game in town-equity trading.
Eager to cash in on booming economic growth of 8.4 per cent last year, the urban middle class has fuelled nascent exchanges in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and a flourishing "grey" market of as-yet unlisted stocks.
The HCMC Securities Trading Centre, set up in the communist- ruled country in 2000, is still in its infancy, with just 37 listed companies and a market capitalisation of 1.94 billion dollars.
But it's growing rapidly: trading has exploded in a share market that was worth just 250 million dollars a year ago. So far this year, the VN Index has gained over 80 per cent, closing up 0.4 per cent at 545.39 points Friday.
Studying the numbers recently on the electronic board of a major broker, Saigon Securities Inc, was Nguyen Quoc Truong, 49, a restaurant owner who said he has invested five million dong (300 dollars) so far. Truong said he understands only the basics of stock-trading and sometimes takes advice from his teenage nephew while sticking to simple, prudent rules.
"The market goes down when many people sell, and it rises when many people buy," he said. "I choose the biggest company. It's safer."
"With a lottery ticket," he added, "you have less chance to win."
Truong is part of a new wave of rookie investors discovering the rules of capitalism in Vietnam which hopes to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this year. Without access to company reports or an aggressive financial press, most investors rely on rumours, friends' advice and gut-feelings.
"Most people buy and sell stocks without analysis, without caring for the company's performance and financial results," said a 31-year-old woman investor in Hanoi. "Trading stocks for them is just like gambling."
And gambling, many Vietnamese will admit, is a national obsession-whether it's on card games, buffalo fights, European football or the wildly popular and illegal "so de" game, a bet on the last two numbers of the state lottery.
So it comes as little surprise that the number of investors on the HCMC market has shot up from 20,000 in January to 50,000 today. In Ho Chi Minh City, many people now hotly debate the latest news on what state-owned enterprise will equitise next, or which bank may be targeted by a foreign giant. "Before, in coffee shops, people were talking about real estate," said Doan Viet Dai Tu, managing partner of investment and consultant group Open Asia. "Now they talk about the stock exchange." Hoa, a 45-year-old mother of three, said, "I gamble so that I can invest in my children's studies," referring to stock trading. "I look at the Internet and take into account information gathered by my friends."
In a bid to calm the red-hot market, the finance ministry recently told state banks to tighten credit for share purchases, fearing a market downturn will lead to a wave of bad loans.
Many shares are also traded on the informal or "grey" over- the-counter market, where people put their money on whatever as- yet unlisted company is thought to be the next big thing.
Merrill Lynch fuelled the excitement in January with a bullish report on the emerging market of 83 million people, where it said "wealth is being created at a turbo-charged rate," labelling Vietnam shares a 'ten-year buy.'
Foreign investors, too, have discovered Vietnam, calmly buying low during a sudden dip last week when some local investors experienced their first market wobble.
Experts warn that share-trading holds dangers for the first- timers.
"Retail investors don't really understand the process," said Kevin Snowball, a director of investment fund PXP Vietnam Asset Management.
"The level of sophistication is ridiculously low. It's just blind trust in what other investors say."
The HCMC centre now offers classes on the basics of stock- trading-but another problem remains assessing the worth of the companies themselves.
To comply with WTO rules, Vietnam has passed new company laws that mandate greater disclosure, but so far there is little transparency, said researcher Martin Gainsborough of the Bristol- Vietnam Project. In a country where corrupt tax officials and other state agencies often prey on enterprises, companies have little incentive to open their books, he argues in a recent report.
"While the companies that have listed on the market are arguably the leaders in terms of paying attention to corporate governance," he said, "doubts still linger on… whether one can trust the information they have made available."