HOPES of a Budget boost for property stocks and a faith in a Sino-British breakthrough pushed the Hang Seng index up 46.83 points yesterday, less than 50 points from the record close. High turnover of $4.38 billion gave encouragement to those hoping for a record. ''I think some investors still believe the story that there will be an eventual resumption of talks,'' said Andrew To Koon-hung, sales director at PBI Securities. However, the premium between the futures market and equities prices narrowed, and some dealers said this indicated that a small number of investors were losing confidence in the rise. The market closed before news broke of comments by Lu Ping, head of the Hongkong and Macau Affairs Office, who told reporters in Beijing that pre-conditions for talks with the British Government had not yet been met. A special trade of 50 million shares at $3.85 gave Champion Technology the highest turnover of the day, at $214.4 million. The special trade follows reports that singer Alan Tam and his associates were placing shares in the company. Prices moved smartly higher on opening, despite the 2.4 per cent rise on Friday. After 15 minutes of trade, the index was at 6,386.19, about 35 above Friday's close, despite weakness in property stocks. Some investors appeared to have decided to buy stock and were trying to find a rumour to justify their decision. But profit-taking emerged before the 6,400 mark was challenged and prices slipped, the index falling below Friday's close to 6,338.09 before buying picked up again - with strong profit taking overwhelmed by stronger buying interest, much from overseas - in hectic trade. Prices moved up slowly but surely for the rest of the day, easing in the last 30 minutes. The day's high of 6,407.94 during late trade proved too high, however, and the index again dropped below 6,400 for the close of 6,398.82. The March futures index soared in the morning to a high of 6,465, before falling quickly in the afternoon to close at 6,408, a nine-point premium to the cash market. Volume for all contracts was 8,132. Bank of East Asia was the best-performing stock in the index, rising 3.1 per cent to $32.75, up $1. Dealers offered differing explanations, with some citing further news of China ventures and others saying that there was overspill buying because Hang Seng Bank and HSBC Holdings were likely to under-perform in the next few days. Hang Seng Bank is already at a record high, while HSBC Holdings is at a resistance point because of a $5.12 billion placement last year at $64.46. It closed at $65, unchanged on the day. Property shares recovered well from a bad start, the index closing up 91.07 at 10,113.65. Some investors were focusing on Wednesday's Budget, saying Financial Secretary Hamish Macleod's expected tax giveaway might boost the property market. Another Budget theory supporting the market was that any tax handout may be pumped into share purchases because of the dismal returns on offer elsewhere. Many of those thinking they could read Mr Macleod's mind put their money into SHK Properties, which rose 2.3 per cent to $33.75, a lift of 75 cents. New World rose 2.1 per cent to $19.80, a jump of 40 cents. Hutchison Whampoa was heavily traded, rising 20 cents to $17.70 on turnover of $194.3 million. Also popular was the May Polycourt warrant, which was up 10.8 per cent to close at $2.825, a rise of 37.5 cents, on trade of $88.7 million, boosted by trade from speculators who made a handsome profit on the recently expired March Polycourt warrants. National Mutual added 9.8 per cent to $3.625, a rise of 32.5 cents. The stock is still being bought by overseas institutions, although yesterday's rise was on low volume of $18.7 million. Laws Property was suspended pending an announcement, which had a knock-on effect on its major shareholder, Laws International, which added 7.5 per cent to $2.075, a rise of 14.5 cents. JCG Holdings posted a notice before the start of trade saying it knew of no reason for its recent price rise. The shares closed 10 cents at $3.325, a jump of 3.1 per cent.