STOCKS headed lower for a fifth day yesterday as a slide on Wall Street and uncertainty about an imminent cut in interest rates eroded sentiment. The Hang Seng Index fell 100.72 points to end 1.02 per cent lower at 9,705.86. At one stage it was down 158.84 points. Turnover was light at $2.84 billion although up from the revised $2.19 billion for Monday. Volume was poor with 910 million shares changing hands. Vickers Ballas Securities associate director Elvic Ng said: 'It was pretty much as expected. The market was affected by the fall in the US, the drop in bonds and caution about the US budget agreement. 'It looks like any rate cut will not take place until January.' The Dow Jones industrial average fell 101.52 points to 5,075.21 on Monday, the biggest drop in almost four years, as hopes for a rate cut at yesterday's Federal Open Market Committee meeting soured. Stocks in the region followed Wall Street down, with many taking heavy losses. The one bright note for Hong Kong was the better than expected response at the government land auction, which helped the index retrace some of its earlier losses. Tai Fook Securities director Lennon Chan said: 'The land auction definitely helped as people seemed to be rushing into the market for luxury residential sites.' The index began with a sharp fall, dropping 150 points in minutes. From the previous close of 9,806.58, it headed to 9,660 before finding support. This was short-lived as further selling took the index down to the day's low of 9,647.74 at 11.15 am. It spent the rest of the morning recovering to reach lunch at 9,687.23, an intra-day fall of 119.35 points. The afternoon saw volatile trading with the index climbing at the close. Among the 33 Hang Seng Index constituents, 31 lost value and two closed unchanged. Utilities were hit the hardest as concerns over weakening earnings growth compounded their predicament. The Hang Seng utilities sub-index shed 128.65 points to 9,701.57. China Light & Power fell to its lowest level since February, losing 60 cents to $34.70. This followed an admission by chairman Sir Sidney Gordon at the company's annual meeting on Monday that overall sales growth for the current year to September would be worse than last year. Other utilities were also weaker. Hongkong Telecom lost 15 cents to $13.20, Hongkong Electric fell 35 to $24.90 and Hong Kong and China Gas slipped 15 to $12.50. Banks were led down by index giant HSBC, with the Hang Seng finance sub-index dropping 117.68 points to 9,570.81. Banks have among the most to lose if interest rates remain high. HSBC led all stocks in net loss, giving up $1.50 to $113.50 in the day's highest turnover of $249.69 million. At one stage it was down $3. Hang Seng Bank fell 75 cents to $67.50 and Bank of East Asia shed 20 to $27.20. Properties fell but were boosted by the results of the land auction and outperformed all other sectors. Cheung Kong lost 30 cents to $44.40, Sun Hung Kai Properties 25 to $59 and Henderson Land Development 20 to $45.60. New World Development held steady at $32.20. Mr Ng said: 'A lot of people believe the worst is over for this counter and it has been a star performer this year.' Commercial and industrial counters suffered heavily, with the Hang Seng sub-index falling 84.23 points to 7,287.71. Cathay Pacific Airways slumped 35 cents to $11.65 after an announcement by managing director Rod Eddington that the aviation industry may be set for more consolidation. Cathay's parent Swire Pacific lost 75 cents to $58.50. Oriental Press Group was sold heavily as it took further flak from the ongoing price war among the Chinese-language press. Oriental Press lost 10 cents to $2.60. Most second and third line stocks headed lower but none as spectacularly as new listing China Apollo. Shares in the tonic and health drink maker tumbled more than 30 per cent at the opening before recovering to close at $1.17, still 22 per cent below its issue price of $1.50. Other China-related stocks were also sold heavily. H shares took a battering, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index falling 17.76 points or 2.4 per cent to 721.68. Looking ahead, brokers said the market had factored out the expectation of a rate cut and should make some gains if rates were reduced.