THE Hang Seng Index hit another record yesterday with a 106.43 point jump to 7,276.39 - the first time it has closed above 7,200. Brokers said investors had reacted enthusiastically to news that Chinese and British negotiators would meet again on Friday for a fourth round of talks about Hongkong's future, and were optimistic that a financing agreement for Chek Lap Kok airport couldbe signed soon. ''Market sentiment has really become better because people realise the market does not want to come off,'' said Salomon Brothers' David Williamson. Barclays de Zoete Wedd director K.S. Ng said investors took the short break between the third and fourth rounds of talks as an indication that progress had been made and a resolution of the political and economic issues was imminent. ''People think they are in serious discussions and want to reach a decision as soon as possible,'' he said. The index gained to hit 7,227.07 by lunchtime, after Governor Chris Patten said the third round of talks in Beijing had made progress. In the afternoon, the rally continued with another 49.32 point gain. The index, which has now climbed 33.8 per cent since the beginning of the year, was fuelled by the utilities sector. Hongkong Telecom climbed 30 cents to $11.50 while China Light and Power was up $1.25 to $39.75. The two stocks padded the index by 21.55 and 12.11 points respectively. The utilities sub-index was up 191.50 points to 8,390.03. Nomura Research vice-president Gary Wong said Hongkong Telecom had jumped because investors expected the company to release stronger final results than earlier forecast on Thursday. According to The Estimate Directory, Hongkong Telecom's profits should climb 15 per cent to $6.53 billion. Hutchison Whampoa was the most heavily traded stock for the fifth consecutive day with turnover of $344.6 million, 7.3 per cent of the $4.7 billion total. The stock jumped $1.10 to $21.90 with brokers noting strong buying by Cheung Kong and mainland investors. Hutchison's 5.2 per cent climb followed strong buying on Friday, which was primarily caused by speculation that the company was selling its British telecommunications business. Jardine Matheson was up $1 to $60 but is still trading 9.1 per cent below its record of $65.60. Swire Pacific A climbed 75 cents to a record $40.25. While blue-chip counters posted healthy gains, second and third-line stocks had mixed performances. The broader-based All Ordinaries was up only 46.52 to 3,886.12. Asia Securities, the target of a takeover battle between Lippo Group and the Chinachem Group, jumped 21.4 per cent, 35 cents, to $1.98 on heavy volume of 40.2 million shares. The price now matches Chinachem's offer of $1.98, compared with $1.54 from Lippo. Brokers said they expected Lippo to counter-offer soon to bump up its stake from 34.47 per cent. Applied International Holdings, which makes toys, electronic products and education aids, jumped 22.5 per cent, $1.075, to $5.85. Lei Shing Hong, rumoured to be a potential Chinese takeover target, rose 7.9 per cent, $1.30, to $17.70. Chow Sang Sang fell 37.5 cents to $4.275 after it announced that final profits had risen 10 per cent to $182 million.