FUTURES traders pushed the market sharply down in morning trading yesterday, but failed in their bid to test new lows as the key 8,800 support level was maintained. The Hang Seng Index, after dropping as much as 120.85 points, closed higher by a marginal 4.66 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 8,900.48. Turnover was light, at $2.84 billion, slightly up from Friday's adjusted $2.73 billion. Volume was thin, with 1.25 billion shares changing hands. Blue chips were mixed, as stronger banking and utilities counters balanced weaker property stocks. 'The market was quite heavily led by futures-linked trading to break the 8,800 support level,' Dharmala Securities research director Ben Kwong said. 'They were testing that, but there is strong support.' Brokers said a lack of fresh money injected by overseas investors, because of an absence of local news, meant the index could be moved easily. Many local investors would continue to watch closely key interim earnings results due to be announced over the next week. 'Trading is still quite thin because . . . investors are cautious ahead of results, so people can use a very small amount of cash to move the market up or down,' Tai Fook Securities research director Elton Cheung said. 'It was a positive day because there is strong support at key technical levels.' The day got off to a stronger start on higher Hong Kong share prices in London on Friday, with the index hitting the day's peak of 8,931.53 minutes after the opening bells rang. The futures traders soon got to work, however, steadily bringing down the index to the lunch break. The low of 8,774.97 was reached just before 12.30 pm. The afternoon was better, with a steady climb to about 3 pm, with the index near the 8,860 level. A 20-point drop was recorded in the next 15 minutes but the index was pushed up in the final hour of trading. Properties were hit by nervous selling of Cheung Kong Holdings, which reports interim earnings on Thursday. The Hang Seng property sub-index lost 112.37 points, or 0.75 per cent, to close at 14,844.12. Cheung Kong, which claimed the number two spot in the top turnover category with $201.75 million worth of its shares traded, lost 30 cents to close at $36.90. Sun Hung Kai Properties lost 75 cents to close at $52, while Henderson Land fell 70 cents to $40. Hopewell Holdings closed unchanged at $5.70 and New World Development was up 10 cents to $27.30. A slight rise in HSBC Holdings pushed up the finance sector, with the Hang Seng finance sub-index gaining 28.69 points, or 0.34 per cent, to close the day at 8,529.94. HSBC climbed 50 cents to $100.50, while Bank of East Asia gained five cents to close at $24.35 and Hang Seng Bank was unchanged at $61. Utilities were mixed but a strong showing by Hongkong Telecom brought up the sector overall. The Hang Seng utilities sub-index rose 66.41 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 10,017.78. Telecom, which was recently forecast by Salomon Brothers to see at least a 35 per cent rise in share price over the next 12 months, gained 20 cents to $13.55. Hongkong Electric Holdings also gained 20 cents, closing at $25.65. Hongkong and China Gas was unchanged at $11.90 while China Light & Power lost 30 cents to close at $37.60. CITIC Pacific, meanwhile, which reported a 20.39 per cent rise in interim attributable earnings after the market closed, lost five cents to close at $20.20. Hutchison Whampoa, which reports its interims on Thursday, gained 20 cents to close at $37.40. Second liners saw active trading, with metals traders performing well on news of stabilising metal prices in China. Linkful International gained more than any other stock to close up 11 cents, or 18.33 per cent, at 71 cents. Simsen Metals gained eight cents, or 15.38 per cent, to close at 60 cents. The Hang Seng MidCap 50 Index fell slightly over the day, closing down 3.03 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 1,238.35. Brokers said they expected Wall Street and London to be closely monitored over the week, but movement on the back of those markets would be limited. Key property counters should see action, however, as Cheung Kong and Hutchison results were expected to be good. 'Everybody's got a lot of cash, but they're not putting it in yet because there are no incentives,' one broker said.