'HURRY up and turn on those lights' was the cry from investors who were shocked by poor earnings growth at China Light & Power (CLP). CLP shares are down nearly 10 per cent since announcing their results and the Hang Seng Index itself is not too far behind this week. While CLP's results were not that bad, what really shocked the market was its management's warning of a slowdown in core business, dividend growth and in capital expenditure. Can we just chalk it up to CLP? Or do these results bode ill for the whole utility sector or even the market as a whole? Our view is firstly there is no surprise. How many new factories have you seen opening in Kowloon and the New Territories sucking up the kilojoules each day? While new housing developments do lead to growth in electricity consumption, this growth is not enough to offset losses from the relocation to China of so much of Hong Kong's manufacturing sector. Since the maximum bullish fever of late 1993 dimmed we have never been a fan of CLP shares, we have preferred Hongkong Electric. CLP trades at an unmerited premium to HK Electric. Also troubles at Daya Bay and generally poor sentiment about China business have dogged this counter for some time. As for the utility sector, we have already voted with our money. We own no shares in this sector having sold off our HK Electric stock once they reached the fair value of about $27 per share. Unlike the utility sector in the US which yields over six per cent, Hong Kong's counterpart is not well supported by high dividend yields. While earnings growth is generally stable in this sector the low yields (HK Gas 2.5 per cent; CLP 4.4 per cent; HK Telecom 4.9 per cent; HK Electric four per cent) mean these shares are not well buffered from movements in the index itself. Of all the utility counters HK Telecom is our least favourite, except perhaps as a short-term trading play. We all know how Telecom's monopoly is disappearing and its growth is slowing. While this is nice for the consumer, its not good news for shareholders. As a final comment if you want to buy the utility sector, our advice is don't. If you still insist, then the only share we can recommend today is Hongkong Electric as it offers the best relative value. In portfolio action this week we add, as previously promised a holding in that purveyor of 'Cha Siu' Ng Fong-hong. Trading only a few per cent above its listing price of $3.20 an appropriate purchase time is upon us. Making way for this purchase we dispose of our year's disaster stock purchase to date, Shanghai Haixing Shipping. We're choking on all the sea water we drank on this one. With the market now trading near 9,400 some of the blue chips are starting to look attractive. We suggest investors look at Swire Pacific, Cheung Kong and Citic. The market seems to have uncoupled itself from Wall Street by falling sharply when least expected. While obviously catalysed by the sudden distaste for the utility sector, it appears that heavy selling may have come from the liquidation of some of ill-fated Daiwa Bank's portfolio. Look for the market to rebound as purchases of the index at 9,400 offer good profit potential for the short-term traders who would sell at about 9,750.