Hong Kong stocks closed lower after a day of narrow range trading yesterday with uncertainty over interest rates leaving the market with little sense of direction. Broker said investors were cautious ahead of tonight's US employment data, which could determine whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates this month. The Hang Seng Index closed 36.44 points down at 11,040.51. At one stage it was 24.68 points up. Turnover fell to $3.52 billion from Wednesday's revised $3.87 billion. DBS Securities research director Percy Au-young said: 'There is little local news and no clear picture from the United States. It is just wait and see.' Brokers said the main concern was whether the US Federal Open Market Committee would raise key interest rates when it meets on September 24, prompting Hong Kong to do the same. US markets sent out contradictory signals on Wednesday as Wall Street rose but bond prices fell, leaving investors without a clear lead. Rumours of a share placement by Citic Pacific dragged stocks down in the afternoon, adding to the unsettled trading. Citic led the market in net loss, falling 60 cents to $33.10. Pacific Challenge Securities research director Samuel Lau said: 'The rumour was so well circulated that even the small investors knew about it. People know the company would like to raise more cash.' A Citic official later said the company had no immediate plans to make a share placement. Among the 33 Hang Seng Index constituents, eight advanced, three closed unchanged, and 22 lost value. Property and banking stocks lost the most ground as they are usually the most sensitive to interest rates. Cheung Kong fell 50 cents to $54, Sun Hung Kai Properties fell 50 cents to $74.25, and Hang Seng Bank lost 25 cents to $78.25. Utilities bucked the trend as investors saw the sector undervalued. Hongkong Electric rose 25 cents to $23.25, and Hongkong & China Gas climbed 20 cents to $12.85. Vickers Ballas Securities sales director Antony Mak said: 'The utilities held up well. After seeing how they have performed of late, investors bet they don't have much further downside.' Outside the index, conglomerate Pacific Concord was heavily traded on news the company will spin-off its Hong Kong and China property operations. Pacific Concord gained two cents to $1.90 with 34.75 million shares changing hands. Looking ahead, brokers see more weakness in the market as investors stay sidelined awaiting further US economic data.