WHILE the ghost of crashes past looms large over all investors' psyches every October, this October's ghosts had their final fling on the last day of the month, Halloween. Despite some opportune moments this year, the ghosts only caused the odd chill wind to breeze through equity markets. November or not, we are still bears on the United States stock market. Everything is too good. Mutual funds have lots of cash inflows, the economy is enjoying a low-inflation, soft-landing Indian summer. One has to ask: 'Gee, what can make it any better?' Not much. It can only get worse. Throw in a few more corporate earnings disappointments, a failure of Congress to raise the government's debt limit, a US bond market that is looking wildly ahead of itself and you have the recipe for a sharp drop on Wall Street. If so, expect a very sharp rap on the knee-caps when the Hang Seng's reflexes get tested. Nevertheless, in general, things are improving here and the index, having tested 9,600 several times, looks well supported at this level. Factors contributing to the index's support seem to be the media attention given to the improvement in the residential property market. People are even reported to be paying once again for places in the queues at sales offices. The big developers' shares have moved up in price so significantly that they are almost all overpriced, or at best only fairly valued, with the exception of Cheung Kong, which still looks relatively cheap. The laggards like Sino Land and Hang Lung could be worth a crack, as they have some catching up to do. Also of interest are some of the second line developers. These include long-term portfolio member HKR International, which we still rate a buy. For the more daring property bulls a purchase of Sino Land warrants might be a way to gear exposure to the sector. We also like Hon Kwok Land, which is undervalued and well touted by Morgan Stanley. Finally, Far East Hotels, which we admit has been one of our portfolio's dogs so far, does offer a lot of hidden value with its Lai Chi Kok development. While the counter's image is mired in bad press, the share trades at a mega-discount to its net asset value. In portfolio action today, we add to our holding in Swire A, as selling pressure relating to Cathay's troubles seems to be easing. We also add shares of industrial counter Innovative International, which is a car aerial and battery maker, based in Hong Kong with production facilities in China. Subject to increases in purchases by the major shareholder, a bullish sign, and trading at a historical price/earnings ratio of 6.5 with a yield of over seven per cent, this counter looks attractive. Lastly we advise investors to look carefully at Jardine Matheson trading in Singapore. The share is trading about 30 per cent off its previous highs at about US$6 per share. Year-end results will be poor, but the counter is beginning to look cheap, especially if it becomes an index component in Singapore as tipped.