THERE are signs that the stock market is about to be led another merry dance by property tycoon and major market investor Li Ka-shing. Chinese newspapers yesterday reported him saying at a public function on Thursday that Hutchison Whampoa, his international trading and telecommunications conglomerate, would need a huge amount of funding in the future. Mr Li was reported as suggesting that such demand for cash might prompt a Hutchison placement. He gave no date for the likely placement, according to Reuters, but he apparently said that if it happened, it would be after the Hutchison warrants had expired. Polycourt 1993, the covered warrant on Hutchison by Cheung Kong, is due to expire on April 23, with April 29 being effectively the last exercise date. A covered warrant is a derivative instrument that offers the investor the right to convert into ordinary shares at a set price during a pre-determined period. A placement at Hutchison would make a lot of sense, especially if it was combined with Shougang or CITIC Pacific taking a slice of the group, as is being rumoured in the marketplace. After the press reports yesterday, Mr Li issued a clarification to the stock exchange which said that there would not be a placement - at least not until the end of this month. This was no clarification. Brokers are just as confused now as they were when they read their papers yesterday. Hutchison's share price fell 40 cents to $17.60 in response to the confusion. Maybe Mr Li needs a better public relations adviser, or maybe all his statements in public should be limited to matters that are not share-price sensitive. His statements of clarification have failed to clear up uncertainty before. Last year, following an unconfirmed report in a local magazine that suggested he was due to pull out of the British personal communications market, Mr Li was forced to issue at least two statements of clarification as to his intentions. On the announcement of Hutchison's interims last year, when the group announced a $78 million loss after a $1.42 billion provision for Husky Oil in Canada, Mr Li told the press there were no immediate plans for a placement. A few days later, after the market had closed and when Hutchison's share price was somewhat depressed, the company undertook a placement amounting to $4.47 billion. Had any other company chairman blithely announced the possibility of a placement in a public place in the same circumstances as on Thursday, the outcome might have been different. In future it would be helpful for the purposes of maintaining clarity if Mr Li kept clear lines of communication with investors - or one would hope that the exchange regulators would take more decisive action.