Hang Seng Index
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Late rally puts end to index's losing streak

AN attempted rally on the stock market was quickly killed by profit-taking yesterday, leaving the Hang Seng Index up just 3.97 points.

Only a second attempted rally late in the afternoon saved the index from its fourth fall in a row. This second rally was led by Swire Pacific A, whose price rose $1.25 to close 3.8 per cent firmer at $34.50.

Dealers said a few institutional buy orders had arrived from overseas and had been left until very late for execution.

Dairy Farm and HAECO were also strong. Henderson Investment rose sharply in the first 30 minutes of trade on rumours, so far unconfirmed, that it would be privatised.

IHD and China Strategic were suspended before trade started.

After falling more than 120 points in the two previous days, dealers said an attempted rally in thin trade was expected. Prices rose sharply for 15 minutes but the rise ran out of steam.

Although the index briefly was as high as 6,323.73 at around 11.15 am, profit-taking soon started and the index sank for most of the rest of the day.

During the afternoon it touched as low as 6,258.93 before it recovered to the opening level.

Futures rose slightly in thin trade, moving from discount to premium to the cash index. The April index contract closed up 15 points at 6,290.

The best stock in the index was HAECO, which rose four per cent or $1.10 to $28.50 in thin trade. It was also the best-performing blue chip for the week with a gain of 3.6 per cent over the three trading days.

Dairy Farm also attracted some mild support. It rose 20 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $11.10.

Of the 33 index stocks, 12 rose, 11 were unchanged, and 10 fell. The biggest loser was Mandarin Oriental, which fell 4.1 per cent or 30 cents to $7.05.

The top turnover stock yesterday was HSBC, on $217.11 million. The stock closed unchanged at $68.50.

Henderson Investment closed up 25 cents at $3.85, after a high of $4. The company told the exchange during lunch that it knew of no reason for the rise in both price and volume.

Turnover was $13.66 million.

Other Lee Shau-kee companies failed to follow suit. Henderson Land, Henderson Investment's controlling shareholder with a 72 per cent stake, closed unchanged at $18.10.

Pico Far East recorded a block of 9.2 million shares traded at 98 cents. The stock had the second-largest gain of 10 per cent, rising from $1 to $1.10.

Anex International recorded 2.5 million shares sold in four blocks, mostly at $1.87. The shares rose one cent to $1.89.

Allied Properties, which was suspended on Tuesday after receipt of sections of a report prepared by an inspector, has continued to buy its shares, exchange data revealed. The company bought 554,000 of its own shares on Wednesday.

The day's biggest gainer was Juko Laboratories, which rose 19.1 per cent or 8.5 cents to 53 cents.

Speculative interest fell sharply in Conic Investment, which slid 11.1 per cent to end 25 cents down at $2.