Hong Kong stocks were led down yesterday by financial counters as HSBC entered the mortgage price war. The Hang Seng Index fell 83.92 points, or 0.54 per cent, to end at 15,377.19. Turnover rose to $11.06 billion from $9.8 billion on Monday. Sentiment towards mainland plays improved, with the H-share index soaring 4.53 per cent to 495.69 points and the red-chip index rising 1.79 per cent to 1,161.09 points. HSBC slid 1.9 per cent to $103 while Hang Seng Bank lost 1.98 per cent to $86.25, which brokers attributed to the special mortgage packages being launched by the banks. 'They are getting thinner margins for these new schemes in the mortgage price war,' Tai Fook Securities' deputy managing director, Chan Wing-luk, said. Cable & Wireless HKT shed 1.85 per cent to $21.15 on profit-taking after its strong rise since it announced a multimedia joint venture with Star TV. A rebound in property counters kept the market from falling further as Sun Hung Kai Properties gained 4.02 per cent to $71 and Swire Pacific added 2.05 per cent to $44.60. Property stocks have lagged gains in other sectors, particularly telecommunications stocks, in recent weeks. Favourable macroeconomic data in the past few days - such as the better than expected 4.5 per cent gross domestic product growth in the third quarter - has focused interest on underperformers. 'The market is looking at these laggards, picking up some of the heavyweight property counters,' Phillip Securities research director Louis Wong said. Property counters also benefited from the mortgage price war as it could attract first-time buyers into the market. Cheung Kong rose 1.45 per cent to $87.25. Hutchison Whampoa was unchanged at $95.50, while China Telecom edged up 0.96 per cent to $41.70. After being sold heavily in previous weeks, China-related shares saw a strong performance on hopes of positive news from the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle this week. Shanghai Petrochemical jumped 11.9 per cent to $1.41, also benefiting from the high price of oil which should boost the firm's margins. Chemical stocks recorded a strong performance as they are expected to benefit as textile exports rise when quotas are removed under membership of the WTO. Jilin Chemical and Yizheng Chemical - which manufacture dyes and fibres for the textiles industry - soared 14.75 per cent to 70 cents and 10.55 per cent to $2.20, respectively. Hing Kong - which soared last week after it became the listing vehicle for the Shenzhen technology park project - saw volatile trade and added a further 18.18 per cent to $2.60. The share surged as rumours circulated that the stock was going to be supported to a higher level. 'The story circulating in the market is that they want to see the price reach $3.50,' Fulbright Securities general manager Francis Lun said. Shares in the Growth Enterprise Market rebounded yesterday after succumbing to profit-taking on Monday, with China Agrotech jumping 11.36 per cent to $1.47.