STOCKS headed lower yesterday as news of a share placement by Henderson Land Development dragged down the market. The Hang Seng Index closed 76.48 points down at 9,898.89, a loss of 0.77 per cent. Turnover was moderate at $4.01 billion, down from the revised $4.88 million for Tuesday. Volume also was down, with 1.42 billion shares changing hands. Dharmala Securities research director Ben Kwong said: 'The market has met resistance at the previous high and as the index failed to head through, investors are looking for an excuse to take profit. 'The rumour that Henderson Land will make a placement provided an excuse.' Rumours that Henderson was to make a private placement of shares to institutional investors surfaced in the afternoon and sent property shares sharply lower. They were confirmed after the market closed. Investors deserted the property counters fearing others might have to follow the same route. The senior manager for institutional sales at Sun Hung Kai Investment Services, Kent Rossiter, said: 'Henderson cast a shadow over the whole property sector.' Henderson led all stocks in net loss, dropping $1.30 to $46.80 after falling as low as $46.60. The index opened the day weaker, dropping from the previous close of 9,975.37 to 9,930 before finding some support. It spiked up before again drifting lower to close for lunch at 9,938.74, an intra-day loss of 36.63 points. The index hit the day's low of 9,867.37 at 3.30pm before bargain hunters boosted it to the close. Among the 33 Hang Seng Index stocks, six rose, one closed unchanged and 26 headed lower. The Hang Seng property sub-index slumped 280.98 points or 1.62 per cent to 17,084.92. The big developers all followed Henderson lower. Sun Hung Kai Properties fell $1 to $61.50, New World Development lost 40 cents to $32.70 and Cheung Kong lost 40 cents to $44.30 in the day's highest turnover of $306.69 million Hopewell continued to slide after news it might lose a 30-year concession on its part in Bangkok's transport plans. The counter lost seven cents to $4.25. Utilities fared better buoyed by the ongoing rally in Hongkong Telecom. The Hang Seng sub-index lost just 22.09 points to 9,947.81. Telecom climbed five cents to $13.65 as it continued to benefit from its upgrading by American brokerage Morgan Stanley. Other utilities were lower. Hongkong Electric fell 55 cents to $24.85 and Hongkong and China Gas dropped five cents to $12.60. Banks were mixed, with the Hang Seng finance sub-index losing 18.55 points to 9,762.75. Index giant HSBC lost just one spread or 50 cents to $116, and Bank of East Asia lost five cents to $27.85, but Hang Seng Bank bucked the trend, rising 25 cents to $68.50. Commercial and industrial counters were mostly lower with the Hang Seng sub-index falling 61.66 points to 7,377.50. Conglomerates weighed down the sector most. Swire Pacific fell 75 cents to $60, Hutchison Whampoa fell 30 cents to $44.50 and Wharf slipped 30 cents to $25.70. Swire subsidiary Cathay Pacific continued to climb, adding 10 cents to $12.20 after rising as high as $12.45. Brokers see the stock nearing the end of a run which has seen it rally from a low of $10.70 last month. Miramar Hotel & Investment rose 15 cents to $16.25 following its announcement of a 56.7 per cent growth in net profit on Tuesday. A number of second and third line stocks were actively traded as investors scoured their ranks hunting for bargains. Recent listing New World Infrastructure was one of the strongest stocks in the market, adding 60 cents to $14.50. It had a shaky debut but is now 13.7 per cent above its IPO price. Electroplating machine manufacturer Process Automation again was the target of heavy trade, gaining four cents to 67 cents with 37.75 million shares changing hands. The directors of the company put out a statement through the stock exchange saying they did not know why turnover was so high. Mr Kwong said: 'The counter has risen for some time. It is still one of the cheapest of the technology stocks.' Looking ahead, brokers see the index set to head higher although it may have to consolidate first. Mr Rossiter said: 'There is not much downside from here.'