An influx of mainland tourists will offset another outbreak in winter, says HSBC A renewed outbreak of Sars in the winter will not derail the stock market boom, according to HSBC, which estimates the disease is already factored into prices even if it has mercifully not returned to haunt Hong Kong. From the depths of despair in summer, Hong Kong investors rapidly switched their attention from cross-border infection to the opportunities opened by a seamless border and renewed economic integration with the mainland. 'Sars was a bad period for Hong Kong. However, I believe people will be more comfortable should it come back because of the research that has been conducted on how to contain the disease,' said Ayaz Ebrahim, the chief investment officer for the Asia-Pacific at HSBC Asset Management. Yesterday saw the highest turnover, $18.91 billion, for two years, pushing the Hang Seng Index to a new high for the year and comes as mini booms in retail stocks linked to mainland tourist spending attract highly speculative trading. The fund house has increased its investments locally as it believes a return of Sars is unlikely to repeat the same trilling effect on companies' profit as its first attack in April. 'Once people know how they can catch the disease, they will react more calmly to the outbreak,' Mr Ebrahim said. HSBC recently upgraded its stance for Hong Kong to neutral from underweight earlier this year, when Sars left many retailers, restaurants owners, airlines and hotel operators struggling to earn profits. Mr Ebrahim said it increased its weighting for Hong Kong as the retail and hotel sectors were recovering quickly because of the higher number of individual mainland tourists to the territory. The closer economic partnership arrangement would also benefit these sectors, helping to offset a return of Sars, he said. The firm's global chief investment officer, Chirs Cheetham, said if Sars returned, its impact would be minimal if players invested in well-managed firms.