THE Hang Seng Index rose 120.05 points yesterday with gains posted across all sectors amid strengthening sentiment. The blue-chip benchmark closed at 8,054.88 points, the fifth rise in six days, on a turnover of $3.22 billion. Growing confidence that interest rates are near their peak and strengthening earnings growth boosted support for finance and property stocks. Traders said sentiment, while still volatile, was continuing to improve with institutional buyers changing their recommendations from hold, or sell, to buy. Any worries about a possible trade war between China and the United States over the protection of intellectual property rights are being played down. The market took its lead from overnight trading in London where the Hang Seng London Reference Index dropped about 37.12 points to 7,897.71 points. Shares opened lower in Hong Kong, but headed up as local buyers stepped in to bargain hunt, a broker said. After reaching a low of 7,871 points it quickly rebounded and after 40 minutes of trading was up 10.14 points. From there the morning session continued to consolidate strong gains from earlier in the week. By lunch-time the index had risen 38.85 points, or 0.49 per cent, to end the morning at 7,973.68. Interest rate-sensitive sectors continued to show the healthiest gains with finance and property putting on 44 points, or 0.67 per cent, and 75.1 points, or 0.56 per cent, respectively. During the morning Cheung Kong rose 30 cents to $30.80, while the Hang Seng Bank jumped 50 cents to $46.20. Traders said foreign institutional buyers were again prominent in their rebuilding of underweight portfolios. There were also rumours of heavy buying by investment banks preparing to issue covered warrants. The market climbed steadily during afternoon trading and by 3.15 pm had reached 8,081 points, just off its intra-day high of 8,084.47 points. It ended the day 1.51 per cent higher. Gains were recorded across all the sectors with property up 227.55 points, or 1.71 per cent, and financials up 116.2 points, or a rise of 1.75 per cent. The utilities index rose 80.48 points, or 0.81 per cent, while conglomerates increased 101.22 points or 1.68 per cent. Analysts are generally confident that renewed confidence in companies' earnings growth will maintain the rally. But estimates on where the index will meet resistance range from 8,400 points up to 9,000 points. One analyst said: 'Local buyers continue to remain on the sidelines. I do not think they are convinced about the strength of the rally.' HSBC again dominated blue-chip trading, with its price rising $1 to $80 on a turnover of $211 million. The Bank of East Asia, which was recently hammered over concerns about its potential earnings growth, put on 85 cents to finish at $25.45 on a turnover of $139 million. Shares in property development companies, which have been among the major beneficiaries of growing optimism over stabilised interest rates, had another good day. Sun Hung Kai Properties, the second most heavily traded stock in value terms, rose 40 cents to $48.30 on a turnover of $198 million.