Hong Kong stocks recently soared to a record high but the breadth of the rally has been a lot narrower than most people think. Analysts say only a handful of key blue chips have formed the core of the advance, while the majority of listed stocks have lagged far behind. Even among blue chips, while banks and property counters have raced ahead, other sectors such as utilities have remained almost unmoved. Alan Hutcheson, research director at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell said: 'You have had about 10 big-cap stocks that have led the market. The banks, property developers, and some of the conglomerates. 'If you go lower there are other pockets, but by market context they are not very large at all.' The benchmark Hang Seng Index has risen 22.99 per cent this year, setting new closing highs and new intra-day highs. Among the 33 index members, however, only 11 have set new highs, while some of the others are well off their record levels. Leading the way have been the two largest banks, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank. These have been joined by the big property developers, Henderson Land Development, Cheung Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties, and New World Development. Several conglomerates have also led the rally; notably Citic Pacific, Hutchison Whampoa and First Pacific. Chris Roberts, a regional technical analyst at HSBC James Capel, said: 'It is normal in this stage of a rally for the leadership to be quite blue. 'Early in a bull market people move into the best quality stocks as confidence is quite low. As time goes by the demand for quality lessens.' Analysts said the bigger counters had prospered as their liquidity made them attractive to overseas institutional investors. John Schofield, regional technical analyst at Nava SC Securities, said: 'Foreign funds tend to focus on the most highly liquid stocks.' Among the index powerhouses, HSBC has added 33.76 per cent in setting a string of new highs this year, Henderson Land has risen 52.91 per cent and Hang Seng Bank has gained 31.77 per cent. Among the index laggards are a number of stocks that have contributed little to the HSI advance this year. Television Broadcasts has fallen 3.45 per cent, Hongkong Telecom has lost 2.54 per cent, and Hongkong Electric has shed 1.78 per cent. Mr Roberts said the HSBC James Capel Breadth Indicator, which measures how many of the 115 stocks followed by the company participated in a rally, gave a lower reading than in earlier bull markets. The indicator, which tracks the percentage of the stocks above their 40-week moving average, peaked at 77 per cent in February, compared with a peak of 100 per cent in the summer of 1992. Mr Roberts and Mr Schofield said that as the rally matured it should widen out as investors sought second-and third-line stocks. Others are not so sure. Mr Hutcheson said there had been a learning process after the 1993 rally and overseas investors were now less willing to buy into smaller Hong Kong stocks. 'I don't think investors will buy that strongly or that significantly as they did in 1993,' he said.