THE Hang Seng Index surprised analysts yesterday by surging 156.19 points or 1.87 per cent to close at 8,488.36, despite the release of unfavourable jobless statistics in the United States on Friday which had taken their toll on Wall Street. Turnover, although improved from Friday's revised $2.25 billion, stayed relatively thin at $2.58 billion. Brokers said the market was buoyed by aggressive buying from US firms, especially Morgan Stanley, while some Japanese firms also joined the buying queue in the afternoon session. Despite Friday's loss on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones closed 16.26 points or 0.37 per cent lower at 4,343.40 points, and a 5.8 per cent surge in the unemployment figure over the last month in the US, the Hong Kong exchange saw strong support throughout the day. The benchmark index opened firmer yesterday and rose steadily to reach 8,409.78 points at lunch, up 77.61 points or 0.93 per cent. A broker said a spate of buying from Nomura Securities in the first 15 minutes of afternoon trade helped to push the index higher. Morgan Stanley was said to have bought aggressively during the last 10 minutes of trade and the index shot up to hit the intra-day high at 8,489.04 points just before the close. Large brokerages such as SBCI Hong Kong, Salomon Brothers and James Capel were also reportedly active in the market yesterday. Blue chips rose across the board with the property, utility and finance sectors all performing strongly. The property sub-index added a substantial 360.93 points or 2.64 per cent to close at 14,029.48 points. The utilities sub-index closed 230.76 points firmer, or 2.25 per cent, at 10.485.71 points. The finance sub-index put on 88.47 points or 1.18 per cent to close at 7,597.44. Brokers' views were divided on the surge. One source at a Hong Kong brokerage said: 'The index was mainly fuelled by Morgan Stanley. It is related to arbitrage activities to some extent. But I don't think it [arbitrage] was very effective today.' A dealing director from DBS Securities, Teresa Wong Shue-yung, was more cautious. 'It is too early to comment whether the surge was only short-term arbitraging activities with the futures market or indicating a return to equities in the run-up to an expected correction on Wall Street.' A broker from a British brokerage believed the surge was only futures-related speculation on thin volume. 'The futures market was trading at a premium of 50 to 60 points against the cash market for a whole day. The Hang Seng Index was buoyed by the futures right from the beginning.' But brokers generally agreed the surge yesterday indicated there was potential for an upward movement in the near term. Ms Wong said: 'There is some force to push the index up in the short term and I think the index might test the 8,800 level. 'The performance of the index depends heavily on the flow of overseas equity. 'People sold earlier because the economic factors in China and the property market were not that favourable and these factors are still there. We have to see whether the US money will come back.' Cheung Kong rose $1 or 3.03 per cent to close at $33.90 on a turnover of $195.5 million. Hutchison also rose 90 cents or 2.65 per cent to close at $34.90. Turnover was $174.4 million. Hopewell leaped 25 cents or 4.5 per cent to $5.80 with $95 million changing hands.