STRONG results by HSBC Holdings' Midland Bank unit led a banking-sector charge yesterday, driving up the Hang Seng Index 143.34 points ahead to close at 7,307.54. The finance sub-index was the star performer, ending the hectic day up 240.23 points at 7,305.79. HSBC jumped $4 to a record high of $80 as buyers rushed to snap up shares. The stock generated turnover of $562.2 million, accounting for 11.6 per cent of the day's total of $4.65 billion. Barclays de Zoete Wedd sales manager Nial Gooding said: ''The big surge in demand for HSBC shares exaggerated the market's movement.'' Midland Bank recorded a huge leap in interim profits to GBP385 million (about HK$4.49 billion), up from its previous year's pre-tax profit of GBP60 million. Hang Seng Bank was up 50 cents to $59.50 on turnover $148.2 million. Bank of East Asia remained unchanged at $33.75, with the stock finally stabilising following sharp declines after it reported lower-than-expected interim results last week. Significant gains were also made by Guoco Group, which climbed 30 cents to $23.50, Dah Sing Financial, up 50 cents to $24.20, and Ka Wah Bank, up five cents to $4.65. Mainland-controlled Ka Wah yesterday said net profits for the six months ended June 30 had jumped 39.46 per cent to $83.8 million compared with $60.1 million for the same period in 1992. The market accelerated 78 points within 15 minutes after the start of trading. After trading around 7,240 for the most of the morning, the index climbed to 7,261.18 by lunch. In the afternoon, the strong momentum continued, with the index passing 7,300 just after 3 pm. August index futures gained 114 points to close at a discount of 13.54 to the cash market. Morgan Stanley vice-president of floor trading Andy Stiles said: ''The good news from HSBC and Midland propelled the market initially. After that, overseas buyers, mostly from mutual funds, came in.'' He said he was wary of the market's sudden rise over the past few days on a weak foundation. ''I don't foresee the rally of the past few days lasting,'' he said. Mr Stiles said the market went up earlier this week on low turnover and he now expected a cooling-off period. Chinese Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji's call to recall loans from speculative projects is also expected to have a ripple effect on the market. Sung Hung Kai Securities research director Percy Au-Young expected the market to open higher today with follow-through buying, given yesterday's performance, but ''we may see some consolidation'', he said. Among the most actively stocks, Kader Investment jumped 24.4 per cent or $5.90 to $30 on turnover of $262 million. Cheung Kong gained 70 cents to $26.80 while Sun Hung Kai properties rebounded 75 cents to $38.75. Combined, the two stocks account for 10.8 per cent of the index. Brokers believe both property stocks are still considered cheap by investors at current prices and were being snapped up by bargain-hunters. New World Development gained 30 cents to $19.70. A research report issued yesterday by Schroders Securities said New World was undervalued on a medium-to long-term basis and recommended buying for the long term. The group said yesterday that 64 per cent owned Ramada Hotel had entered a 10-year management agreement with Stouffer Hotel Holdings. Ramada will be the exclusive manager for Stouffer's 32 hotels in the United States, which will eventually operate under the Renaissance name. Jardine Matheson rose $1.50 to $58.50 while Jardine Strategic was up 30 cents to $25.40. The hong has always been regarded as a volatile stock and brokers believe its gain was purely a response to market sentiment. Hutchison continued with its climb, gaining 40 cents to $21.60. Swire Pacific A was up 25 cents at $39.25. Li & Fung, which is considering delaying the float of its retail arm - including Toys 'R' Us and Circle K - rose 10 cents to $3.50. As turnover rose brokerages saw mixed fortunes. South China Brokerage was unchanged at $1.98 while Peregrine surged 70 cents to $12.30.