FOR the third straight day range-trading ruled the Hang Seng Index futures.
Nervous sentiment over the big drop on Wall Street overnight saw the May future open below 9,000 points.
Within minutes the contract leapt to 8,930 and gradually clawed its way back to 9,010 to end the day, closely tracking the cash on the way.
This left it down 125 points and at a three-point discount to the cash.
In all there were 19,800 contracts traded, with strong support for the index at the lower levels.
June fell 120 points to 9,030 on a turnover of 2,009 contracts.
Total volume was 21,809 contracts.
Healthy open interest in June is building up with 3,421 contracts recorded for Thursday.
In May there were 40,521 contracts.
Options were buoyant with 4,528 lots traded.
Implied volatility rose to 27 per cent.
Jardine Fleming said: 'Options traders were conservative in the coming month with June puts actively traded.' Major bears heavily bought June 7,900 puts and sold June 8,400-8,800 two-by-one put spreads.
'Short-term bulls bought May 9,200 calls,' Jardine Fleming said.
Open interest for Thursday in May saw 9,072 calls and 8,074 puts.