THE Hang Seng Index continued its record-setting ways yesterday in anticipation of this weekend's Sino-British talks in Beijing, with a 25.18-point climb to 7,149.3. Brokers said investors had ignored problems such as China's Most Favoured Nation trade status with the United States or the possibility that Sino-British differences would not be resolved. They said many institutional clients were buying more Hongkong shares because they feared getting left behind if the market broke out. Nomura Research vice-president Gary Wong said this was shown by major interest from Japanese brokerages that had stayed away from the market for a long time. ''I guess no one wants to be left out just in case there is movement [at the start of the Sino-British talks] on Friday,'' he said. Mr Wong said the trading of the cash market at a premium to the May index futures was a good sign because it indicated there was not a large element of speculation in the market. ''We are quite happy - the market is moving in the right way,'' he said, adding that Nomura expected the index to hit 7,500 points by August. Morgan Grenfell institutional broker Stuart Gregory was even more sanguine, predicting that the index would have no problem hitting 8,000 as long as there were no snags in Sino-British talks or problems with MFN. ''Overall, the market is still pretty inexpensive and there's still some room for movement,'' he said. After reaching 7,136.31 shortly after trading began, the index saw a small correction by mid-morning as it fell to 7,095. However, it quickly rebounded to 7,136.58 by lunch. In the afternoon, the index climbed to a high for the day of 7,150.07. Hutchison Whampoa was the most heavily traded stock with a turnover of $2.9 billion as shares hit the market after the company's $4.57 billion placement this week. The stock accounted for 36 per cent of total turnover of $8.1 billion. Its price fell 10 cents to $19.90. Chinese Estates Holdings had turnover of $606.6 million on rumours that Cheung Kong had sold a large block of shares as part of a privatisation move. The stock has climbed 15.5 per cent to $4.275 in the past two weeks. The Jardine group continued to benefit from the belief that Sino-British relations had improved, with Jardine Matheson up $1.50 to $57.50, Dairy Farm rising 20 cents to $12.40 and Jardine Strategic climbing 10 cents to $25.30. Tian Teck Land, whose principal asset is a 50.01 per cent stake in Associated Hotels International, posted turnover of $158.4 million. The stock was down seven cents to $1.80. Seapower Securities research director Samuel Lau said stronger interest in the utilities sector might indicate that many investors were becoming more conservative. The utilities sub-index jumped 128.41 points to 8,230. China Light & Power gained 50 cents to $39.50, Hongkong and China Gas rose 40 cents to $14.50 and Hongkong Electric was up 20 cents to $18.30. Lei Shing Hong saw its string of large gains continue with a jump of $2.50 or 1.56 per cent to $18.50. There has been speculation that the company is the target of a mainland takeover. Among the biggest losers was Kader Investments, which fell $1.10 to $10.30 on rumours that a consortium including Shougang Holdings (HK), Cheung Kong and CEF was to acquire 70 per cent of the company. National Mutual, which will release its results for the six months ended March 31 tomorrow, dipped 27.5 cents or 6.9 per cent to $3.70. China Resources Enterprises (CRE) issued a statement yesterday confirming that discussions were taking place with China Resources (Holdings) about a deal that would see it acquire some assets from China Resources (Holdings). The discussions also concerned the issue of new CRE shares to finance the acquisition. CRE said that at present, terms of the acquisition and related financing arrangements had not been finalised. A further announcement would be made when negotiations were concluded, the company said. If an agreement was reached, it would be conditional upon approval of shareholders other than China Resources Holdings and its associates. CRE is involved in commercial property development and cold storage.