UNENTHUSIASTIC investors ruled in the market yesterday, with sideways trading on a lack of solid buying incentives leaving the Hang Seng Index virtually unchanged. The index closed 0.84 points down at 8,895.82, after testing 9,000 three times. Turnover was light, with $2.67 billion worth of shares changing hands, down from a revised $3.05 billion from Thursday. Volume was thin, with 1.3 billion shares swapped. Brokers said they had expected the index to drop as there remained a distinct lack of local incentives, Hong Kong shares closed lower in London, and Wall Street fell slightly overnight. 'While it may not seem very interesting, technically it has been a very healthy day,' Kleinwort Benson head of sales Nial Gooding said. 'In the absence of fresh money coming in, all you're seeing is a little bit of shuffling of the pack. But there's a conspiracy of circumstances here, all of which pointed to a fall. And we didn't feel it. 'It's like the Sherlock Holmes story where the key is the dog didn't bark. That's exactly what happened here - nothing really happened, and that is sort of good.' Seapower Securities analyst Patrick Chia said: 'We were following ripples of London trading and also the slight drop in the Dow Jones, but those are just excuses. There is not much exciting on these stocks. People don't see much reason to get into the market.' Stocks opened lower on the overnight falls on Wall Street and in London, dropping more than 80 points to the low of 8,815.88 by 10.15 am. Directionless trading was seen to the morning close, with the index down 23.98 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 8,872.68. The afternoon saw light trading, just breaking the 8,900 level at about 2.45 pm, when the day's high of 8,900.14 was registered. A drop to just below 8,860 was recorded at about 3.30 pm but the index was pushed up sharply in the final 15 minutes of trading. Most sectors saw mixed results, with utilities being the hardest hit. The Hang Seng utilities sub-index closed down 111.09 points, or 1.1 per cent, at 9,951.37. Hongkong Telecom led the fall, dropping 20 cents to $13.35 on turnover of $173.49 million. It was the second most heavily traded stock by turnover. Hongkong Electric fell 30 cents to $25.45, Hongkong and China Gas dropped 15 cents to $11.90 and China Light & Power lost 10 cents to close the week at $37.90. Banks were mixed, with HSBC Holdings closing unchanged at $100 and leaving the Hang Seng banking sub-index almost even. It gained 6.44 points, or 0.08 per cent, to close at 8,501.25. HSBC claimed the top turnover spot with $238.16 million worth of the shares trading hands. Hang Seng Bank gained 25 cents to $61 while Bank of East Asia lost 20 cents to close at $24.30. Property counters fared well in anticipation of solid interim earnings growth to be reported next week by Cheung Kong Holdings. The Hang Seng property sub-index was up 109.37 points, or 0.74 per cent, to close at 14,956.49. Sun Hung Kai Properties rose higher than any of its competitors, gaining $1 to close at $52.75. Cheung Kong was up 20 cents to $37.20, as was New World Development, which ended the week at $27.20. Hopewell Holdings was up five cents to $5.70 while Henderson Land dropped 10 cents to close at $40.70. Wharf Holdings, which on Wednesday reported a 73 per cent rise in interim attributable earnings, lost 10 cents to close at $22.55. Jusco Stores (Hong Kong) saw a surprise rise in its share price yesterday, climbing 19 cents to $1.18 after hitting an intra-day high of $1.21 in afternoon trading. Some said the Japanese-controlled department store operator was seen as benefiting from the weaker yen, but most brokers said the company sourced most of its products in Hong Kong and would not be affected. Brokers said they expected the index to open next week in the same directionless manner typical of the summer season, but that property counters should see active trading as Cheung Kong reports interim earnings. Most said the index would continue testing lower levels unless Wall Street saw major moves. 'We're gently trending downwards. It's a slow motion crash,' according to Deutsche Morgan Grenfell assistant director Antony Burpee.