HONG KONG stocks headed lower last week after worse-than-expected earnings announcements from Wharf and New World Development knocked property shares. An absence of local news and a worrying jump in bond yields also took their toll on investor confidence and led to increased profit-taking as the week drew to a close. The benchmark Hang Seng Index ended the week 69.53 points or 0.63 per cent down at 10,957.20. Daily turnover dropped to an average of $4.47 billion. Brokers said the looming Easter holidays kept many investors away as they were unwilling to take on large positions ahead of the long break. Howard Gorges, director at South China Brokerage, said: 'Turnover is low and their is a bit of caution about the results.' Wharf disappointed investors on Tuesday when it said its operating profit fell 22.8 per cent last year. Its net profit rose just 16 per cent, well below analysts forecasts of 30 per cent or more. Wharf fell $1.35 or 4.4 per cent on Wednesday and dragged many other counters down with it. New World announced its results on Thursday, leading to further selling of property shares. The company said its 1995 interim profit declined by more than a third. Kent Rossiter, institutional sales manager at Sun Hung Kai Investment Services, said: 'New World dropped a bombshell on the whole property sector.' Selling pressure was increased in the second half of the week by rising pessimism about the chance for further United States interest rates cuts. US long bond yields, which reflects anticipation about rates, headed higher on Thursday after comments by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan that the US might not need further rate cuts. Patrick Chia, analyst at Cheerful Securities, said: 'The long-term trend in the bond yields is scaring investors.' The yields jumped to 6.72 per cent on Thursday from 6.58 per cent following Mr Greenspan's comments. Volatility was increased early in the week by the expiry of the March futures contract on Wednesday. Brokers said derivative traders took advantage of the declining turnover in the cash market to manipulate the index. The first three days of the week saw large intra-day swings. Small speculative stocks had a testing week as many investors stayed clear of the counters following Tuesday's spectacular decline of Rhine Holdings. The jewellery-maker plunged 49 per cent to 83 cents after one of its major-shares holders had to offload its stake to make a margin call. Boby Ho, dealing director at G.K. Goh Securities, said: 'Second liners are still pretty weak following Rhine's tumble, as the sentiment is still not there.' Brokers see the market slipping lower early next week amid sluggish trading ahead of the Easter break.