Stocks took a tumble yesterday after failing to convincingly break through the 18,000-point barrier. The Hang Seng Index rose to a high of 18,028.65 points but ended down 261.17 points, or 1.45 per cent, at 17,659.69 on turnover of HK$15.36 billion, which was high but down from HK$20.29 billion on Friday. 'Eighteen thousand is quite a psychological level for retail investors and they have sold down [yesterday],' said Stephen Brown, head of research at Kim Eng Securities. 'The index is moving in tram lines between 17,500 and 18,000. Sooner or later it will have to break out of that and I think it will break out on the upside.' The driver could be bank earnings, with Bank of East Asia beginning an interim results season tomorrow. Bank of East Asia, down 0.74 per cent to HK$20.05, was also in focus with Dao Heng Bank as takeover targets for the Development Bank of Singapore. 'DBS needs to bulk up their size, there's no doubt about that,' Mr Brown said, adding that stumbling blocks involving senior personnel at the two banks might prevent the deals coming off. Index heavyweight China Mobile fell 4.52 per cent to HK$68.50 as investors took profits and sought better returns among red-hot mainland plays. 'I think it was just profit-taking. The outlook is still very good,' said Eric Tomter, regional telecoms analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson which has a HK$90 price target on the stock. Hutchison fell 3.64 per cent to HK$119, despite Deutsche Telekom saying it would pay US$55.7 billion for US mobile firm VoiceStream Wireless, in which Hutchison has a 23.4 per cent stake. 'When the news is out you are going to sell and take profits,' said Alex Tang Yee-yuk, head of research at Core Pacific Yamaichi Securities. After rising 11.57 per cent last week, H shares piled on a further 2.27 per cent with more than two billion shares changing hands. The airlines led the way as investors reacted to Beijing's plans to consolidate the industry. China Southern Airlines rocketed 15.84 per cent to HK$2.925 and China Eastern Airlines soared 20 per cent to HK$1.62. Mark Webb, regional airlines analyst at HSBC, has downgraded both to 'hold' from 'buy' after their recent huge runs. Investors need to look beyond the SAR market to find better value among airlines, he said. The restructuring story might be over played as well. 'It is going to be tough to find cost savings as they will not be allowed to make staff redundant,' Mr Webb said. PetroChina fell 1.02 per cent to HK$1.93 as Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette downgraded it from 'top pick' to 'market performance'. The brokerage, which was a book runner for PetroChina's public offering, said the stock was nearing its HK$2.14 target and most good news on restructuring was already priced in. Chip firm QPL International fell 3.8 per cent to HK$8.85 as it reported net profits of HK$2.19 per share, below expectations. Much of the profit was a one-off gain from the spin-off of chip assembly packager ASAT. Mark Siford, head of technology research at Deutsche Securities, described QPL's other main business, making lead frames which bind chips to integrated circuits, as a 'sunset industry' due to advances in technology.