LOCAL executive demand plummeted further in October, signalling a longer than expected downturn for the top strata of the territory's job market, according to the November Executive Leasing Index. The monthly survey showed overall demand for executive appointments tumbled 16 per cent during the past month. The unexpected downturn has defied trends recorded in 1993 and 1994, when demand levels soared after the July-August summer holiday period, traditionally regarded as a quiet time for recruitment, the report says. 'The downturn in the economy and business in general is, in part, related to uncertainty over the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997,' said Alfred Chown, principal of Executive Leasing Hong Kong. Demand for information technology executives reported the biggest slump, by 32 per cent, in comparison with the index in October. Information technology, with the largest executive demand in the job market for the past two years, is challenged by the finance sector, recording no change in index totals compared with last month. Engineering appointments dropped by 24 per cent. Demand for marketing executives saw a 19 per cent fall.