The Journal probes the Chinese practice of picking stocks based on traditional lucky numbers. In a country where middle-class novices dominate the market, new investors snap up stocks with codes that include auspicious 8s, and steer clear of those with ominous 4s. That worries analysts aware of the ripple effect of Chinese trading. "This is a reflection of a very immature market," says a JPMorgan sinologist.
Numerology runs deep in Chinese culture, and has crept steadily into the business world—trading rooms are often located on 8th floors, and influential Shanghai markets took a sudden hit when they reached unlucky 4,000. Stock trading has even taken the form of gambling for Chinese arrivistes, who frequent brokerages designed like casinos.