THE slide in Hang Seng Index cash and futures continued yesterday with the February contract falling to its lowest level since January 29. February futures opened at 11,390 and tried to make ground in early trading. The high of the day came within the first 30 minutes of trading at 11,450. The contract closed at the low of 11,260. This close was 80 points down on the previous close and a premium over the cash of 59 points. February futures saw a high on February 2 at 11,585 at the close. The high represented a gain of 7.5 per cent on the previous month. The slide in the contract is 2.8 per cent from the high. At yesterday's close, the contract remains 4.5 per cent up on where it was a month ago. March futures fell 85 points to 11,300, a premium over the cash of 99 points. Turnover was relatively heavy as roll-over activity picked up. There were 16,419 contracts traded in February and 4,520 contracts traded in March. The total for the day was 21,122 contracts. There are effectively eight trading days left in the February contract. In index options Jardine Fleming said: 'Short-term players dominated the options market which traded February 10,800/11,000 put spreads.' Volatility players traded February 11,400 straddles. A straddle is where an investor buys or sells a near or at-the-money put and call. Implied volatility slid to 16 per cent in the front month. In March implied volatility, according to Jardine Fleming, was about 18.5 per cent, down from above 20 per cent on Monday. In June the at-the-money implied volatility was 22.5 per cent. The 10,600 strike in September is due to be introduced today. Open interest in futures for Monday is 44,928 contracts in February. The open interest in March is 7,267 contracts and in June it was 4,383 contracts. In September open interest was 150 contracts. Brokers are expecting the February and March contracts to pick up today or on Thursday ahead of the Lunar New Year break beginning at the weekend. Trading in cash and futures begins after the break on Thursday, February 23. Brokers are confident the February contract can make significant gains on the first day of trading in the Year of the Rat.