A WAVE of buying ahead of Governor Mr Chris Patten's statement to the Legislative Council this afternoon enabled Hongkong shares to recoup all of the dramatic losses caused by the row over his political reforms and pushed the Hang Seng Index to an all-time high of 6,467.8. Fierce trading among investors, sure that Mr Patten would announce that talks with China were resuming, produced one of the busiest days on record and a turnover of more than $5 billion. The exchange's daily bulletin described ''enormous buying interest'' and ''hectic trading''. Good profits from Britain's Midland Bank, now part of the same group as Hongkong Bank, and a positive verdict on Wednesday's Budget fuelled the rise. Share prices flew up when trading started at 10 am, with the Hang Seng Index rising more than 100 points in the first few minutes to pass 6,500 for the first time. An afternoon comment by China's foreign ministry spokesman Mr Li Jianying expressing ''concern'' over Financial Secretary Mr Hamish Macleod's Budget eroded the gains to leave the market 31.16 points up. The computer screens in banks showing share prices had their biggest audiences in months, and in some brokerages, the record market close was greeted by the traditional round of mild applause. Sales director at Peregrine Brokerage Mr Chris Malpass said: ''It's a continuation of Wednesday's bullishness. ''The Budget helped sentiment, in that it was fairly expansionary and good for consumption.'' Many dealers said inflation was generally good for stocks. The market has now risen more than 600 points in less than three weeks, and 30 per cent since it collapsed to 4,978.21 on December 3. Dealers are now waiting for Mr Patten's statement, scheduled for 2 pm, which means the impact will be felt in a frantic one hour of afternoon trade before the close for the weekend. One analyst said: ''We are not opening the champagne until Friday night.'' The previous record close of 6,447.11 was set on November 12 last year, in the euphoric days after the awarding of the contract for the Terminal 9 container port. However, the index came plunging down over the following two weeks, as mainland officials appeared to threaten Hongkong's economy in an attempt to persuade Mr Patten to drop his proposals to widen the franchise in elections to the Legislative Council. For the past three weeks, investors have been betting that talks between London and Beijing are already under way behind the scenes, speculation driven by the continued delay in printing Mr Patten's proposals in the official gazette. The managing director of brokerage United Mok Ying Kie, Mr Richard Witts, warned: ''If the proposal is sorted out to the market's satisfaction, we won't necessarily see a rally of enormous proportions.'' He said much of the good news had already been reflected in rising prices. ''If the proposals are gazetted, then we might fall to around 5,700 or 5,800.'' Stock exchange chief executive Mr Paul Chow told the American Chamber of Commerce at lunchtime yesterday: ''I really do believe that political events have only a short-term impact on the market. They don't have a long-term impact.'' He said the region's economic growth, and the increasing number of mainland companies with their shares traded in Hongkong, meant the territory's market would continue its growth.