AFTER weeks of trailing the yen like a brainless lap dog, the Hong Kong market found a voice of its own in late trading this week. On Friday, it leapt 8.47 per cent to 7,224.69 points, leaving in the dust five-year lows hit earlier in the week. The market managed this even as regional bourses remained depressed on fears of a yuan devaluation and increasing pressure on the Hong Kong dollar. It managed this in the face of growing concern that the region's currency woes are sweeping into emerging markets from Russia to Venezuela to Mexico. Hong Kong's market managed this after the Government, in support mode, on Friday spent an estimated HK$3 billion of its US$96 billion currency reserves. Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the Government was forced to intervene on the stock market for the first time to counter 'improper' measures by speculators. He said hedge funds had built up large positions on the Hang Seng Futures Index and launched speculative attacks on the Hong Kong dollar. 'People are free to do anything they like, he said. 'But once they try to attack the pegged exchange rate, they are touching a very sensitive area,' he said. 'And they are going to get hurt.' It was the first time the Government had used its Exchange Fund to intervene in the market, and the reaction was one of severe criticism. 'It's meant to distract attention from the fundamentals,' HSBC Holdings chief economist Jan Lee said. Santander Investment economist Mark Mcfarland said the buying sent a confused signal: 'Hong Kong is supposed to have a currency-board system which is supposed to guarantee non-intervention. 'They have completely fouled up the mechanism that is supposed to protect Hong Kong's economy.' But others said the move was a defeat of speculators - at least this week.