STOCKS closed lower in thin trading yesterday as profit-takers cashed in on recent gains. The Hang Seng Index closed 33.03 points down at 9,749.36, a loss of 0.34 per cent. Turnover was light at $2.59 billion, slightly up from the revised $2.47 billion for Tuesday. Volume was thin with only 801 million shares changing hands. Brokers said the main reason for the fall was profit-takers seeking to lock in gains from the 110 point rally on Tuesday. Other factors cited for the fall were weakness in Malaysia, where the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index tumbled 1.94 per cent, and the growing strength of the US dollar. A stronger US dollar makes Hong Kong exports less competitive as the Hong Kong dollar is linked to its US counterpart. The main feature of the day was its sluggishness. South China Brokerage director Howard Gorges said: 'There is frankly not a lot to say. It has been a long quiet week.' The fact the market was closed on Wednesday for the Chung Yeung Festival dampened investor interest. The index had been expected to move higher after the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 11.20 points to 4,766.68 on Wednesday. There was some follow-through buying at the opening but this petered out after just a few minutes. The index rose from the previous close of 9,782.39 to reach the day's high of 9,804.97 but it was almost all downhill from there. It dropped steadily through the morning to reach lunch at 9,735.45, an intra-day loss of 46.94 points. In the afternoon trade was a little more spritely. After touching the day's low of 9,731.75 just after lunch, the index made up some ground in seesaw trading through to the close. Among the 33 Hang Seng constituents, 11 advanced, four closed unchanged and 18 lost value. Property stocks led the way down with the Hang Seng property sub-index losing 128.51 points to 16,862.68. Hardest hit were the major property developers which were being pared back because they had led the recent rally. Tai Fook Securities research manager Elton Cheung said: 'People are looking for short-term profits so property developers are under pressure.' Sun Hung Kai Properties was the largest net loser among all stocks, falling $1 to $60.75. Cheung Kong fell 60 cents to $43 and New World Development lost 20 cents to $29.90. Banks fared slightly better with the Hang Seng finance sub-index losing just 13.81 points to 9.390.35. Individual stocks were mixed. HSBC fell 50 cents to $112 in the day's largest turnover of $196.88 million, while Hang Seng Bank climbed 25 cents to $65 and Bank of East Asia rose 20 cents to $27.45. Utilities bucked the trend with the Hang Seng utilities sub-index rising 27.20 points to 10,355.81. Hongkong Telecom added five cents to $13.55, China Light & Power rose 10 cents to $41.30 and Hongkong Electric climbed 10 cents to $26.40. Telecom's gain came amid its announcement that interim profits had risen by 14.8 per cent, the upper end of analyst estimates. The news came out in the mid-afternoon and it may further boost the counter when trading opens today. One broker said: 'Telecom came in slightly better than expected and that might start it on a run.' Cathay Pacific and parent Swire Pacific took further punishment, reversing some of the gains they made on Tuesday. Cathay fell 20 cents to $11.20 and Swire fell 50 cents to $57.50. Both have been troubled by news one of Cathay's former employees has been hired to help launch a rival airline. Second and third line stocks had a quiet day. The Hang Seng MidCap Index rose 6.01 points to 1,253.35. Plastics manufacturer Ngai Hing Hong attracted plenty of interest gaining 20 cents to $4.32 amid turnover of $63.81 million. G.K. Goh Securities, dealing director Boby Ho said: 'Sometimes the punters are looking for a stock to push around, today they found one.' Tomei International was the heaviest traded share of the day, rising 6.5 cents to 56 cents with 33.47 million shares changing hands. Tomei International Rights climbed 7.7 cents to 22.7 cents, a rise of 51.33 per cent. Most brokers expected another dull day ahead of the weekend. 'Range trading looks set to continue, but it really depends on Wall Street,' Mr Ho said.