Many Asian countries - such as China, Korea, Vietnam and Singapore - will celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year starting Sunday, January 29. Chinese soothsayers expect the coming Year of the Dog to be mainly positive and peaceful, but warn natural disasters could be in store.
In Chinese astrology, the dog is the most likable, honest and straightforward of all animals. Its influence is expected to bring a year of justice and harmony.
Each year of the Chinese 12-year zodiac is dominated by an animal. And each year also comes under the influence of one of the five elements - fire, water, wind, earth and wood. This year is a fire year.
Practitioners of Chinese geomancy, or feng shui, predict that in the so-called fire-dog year, world leaders will be more likely to solve long-running conflicts.
The outlook for the economy is mostly rosy, too. Raymond Lo, a well-known feng shui master in Hong Kong, says the year of the dog will be good for all industries related to the elements of fire and wood.
"Wood element is actually related to a lot of consumer products such as fashion, textiles, books and magazines, wooden furniture - this area is the most beneficial in the year of the dog. The other area is the fire industry, like the stock market, energy, oil price," he said.
Lo predicts the sectors that will do less well in 2006 are those related to the element earth, such as the property market, metal industries and mining.
He says the most negative aspect of the dog year will be the increased likelihood of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
But Lo says it will also be a year of increased spirituality across the globe.
"In cultural things, in entertainment you will see more ghost stories, more spiritual things, more religious things, issues coming up," added Lo.
Chinese astrologers predict those born under the signs of the dragon, the dog, the ox and the goat are likely to find this year challenging, but rabbits, tigers and horses are more likely to find peace and harmony over the next 12 months.