INVESTORS nervous with high prices over the long weekend rebalanced their portfolios yesterday, selling property stocks in favour of defensive investments such as finance shares, leaving the Hang Seng Index down 4.44 points at 6,404.44. The market started well but dipped strongly in mid-morning, then rose smoothly in the afternoon with Hang Seng Bank in particularly strong demand and ensuring the index closed above 6,400 for the second day in a row. ''I think because the market is quite uncertain people are looking for counters with quality earnings and reasonable growth,'' said Mr K.S Ng, director at Barclays de Zoete Wedd. ''If you're getting into the market at this kind of level, you want counters that give you quality.'' Hutchison Whampoa suffered from fears of a fund-raising exercise such as a rights issue. Hutchison chairman Li Ka-shing had promised he would not raise cash until the Polycourt warrants had expired. But warrant holders were surprised by a late notice on Thursday night which said the warrants would expire earlier than expected because Hutchison's register would be closed for dividend calculations. The cut in the trading life knocked 19.1 per cent off the price of the Polycourt warrants, tumbling 52.5 cents to $2.75. The Hang Seng Index headed up in early trade, but after reaching a high of 6,418.45 it hit profit-taking and retreated. By 11.45 am it looked in danger of slipping below 6,350 but it held above that level and moved up for the rest of the day, notably late in the afternoon. Turnover was $3.14 billion, $125 million above Thursday's corrected figure. Futures contracts followed the cash index. The April index contract closed at 6,360 points, down eight and 44 below the cash index. Trade in all futures was 4,840 contracts. Hang Seng Bank was the best stock in the index. The stock has gone ex-dividend, and after accounting for this it rose 3.9 per cent to $56, a rise of about $2.10 on the day's highest trade of $534.76 million. The bank was the best performer among the blue chips this week, rising 5.5 per cent against an index rise of one per cent. HSBC was once again overshadowed. It rose 50 cents to $69 on trade of $296.96 million. Dairy Farm was strong. It closed at $11.60, a rise of 20 cents and taking it back to the level at which it started the week. Cheung Kong made a strong recovery from a midday price of $22.30. It closed down 10 cents at $22.60. Mandarin Dragon was the third highest traded stock with a turnover of $188.17 million, helped by more than 22 million shares traded in special and direct trades, including a block of 10.7 million at $3.85 a share. A substantial shareholder was selling a stake and additional trade was being fuelled by speculators. The price rose 60 cents or 14 per cent to $4.875. BZW's warrants on Hongkong Land made their market debut, closing at $2.30 after changing hands for as much as $2.85. The issue price was $2.80. SEA Holdings returned from suspension after announcing a major New Zealand deal. The stock closed at $2.50, up 2.5 cents. The market is closed on Monday for the Ching Ming festival.