INVESTORS turned fence sitters yesterday ahead of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision tonight on the venue of the Olympic Games, sending the Hang Seng Index down 16.41 points to close at 7,478.9. Turnover was a modest $2.63 billion as caution descended on the market in a day marked by quiet trading. Peregrine sales director Chris Malpass said major institutions were unwilling to commit themselves ahead of the political talks and decision on the venue of the Olympic Games. News of Russia sliding towards civil unrest after President Boris Yeltsin dissolved parliament received some early reaction but was soon discounted by investors. OCBC Securities institutional sales senior manager Philip Leung said: ''There was a little bit of concern about Russia but it was not serious. There was no sign of any panic.'' He said that if the worst happened in Russia, it was likely to be beneficial to Hong Kong as the United States had traditionally cultivated China whenever trouble broke out in the former Soviet Union. Nomura Research head Clive Weedon said the market was looking resilient and its performance over the past few weeks was positive. ''There is a lot of caution but there is no selling pressure, just an absence of buyers as most people are adopting a wait-and-see attitude,'' he said. ''It refuses to correct itself after its long rally and is still trading close to its record level.'' He added that investors could still continue to be optimistic about the market. The September index futures edged up five points to 7,450 - a discount of 28.9 points to the cash market. Total turnover was 7,876 contracts. SBCI derivative salesman James Vinall said that as the Hang Seng Index reached 7,500, the futures went into a substantial discount to the cash market. ''It appeared that the market was being kept under the 7,500 level. ''People seem to buy at the 7,300 level and when the Hang Seng Index approaches the 7,500 mark, they start selling.'' He said that if China was successful in its bid to host the Olympic Games, the market would go up, but not substantially. The market opened sluggishly, gaining only one point after 15 minutes of trading. It continued moving up until around 11.45 am as investors started taking profits on selective stocks. It closed 6.91 points down at 7,488.4 at lunch. The finance sector, which had lagged behind in the past few days, was the best performing Hang Seng sub-index, gaining 0.48 per cent or 33.52 points to 7,034.92. The conglomerates and commercial sector was the only other sector which made gains yesterday, edging up 0.14 per cent or 7.85 points to 5,690.41. The property sector fell 0.01 per cent or 1.5 points to 11,447.03. The utility sector was the worst performer as investors took profits after its rise on Tuesday. It lost 1.36 per cent or 125.26 points to 9,089.78. Hongkong Telecom fell 20 cents to $12.60 on a turnover of $42.38 million while Hongkong Electric lost 50 cents to $20.80. China Light & Power shed 25 cents to $42.75 while Hong Kong and China Gas lost 10 cents to $14.60. Jardine Matheson fell $1 to $61 after reporting a 14.4 per cent rise in profits to US$173.8 million for the first six months of the year. Its results were overshadowed by the announcement that group managing director Nigel Rich was retiring after 19 years with the company. Hopewell, the second heaviest traded stock, fell five cents to $5.40. Brokers said the stock had lagged behind in the market and was currently the target of some US institutions. Shangri-La Asia was also heavily traded, rising 30 cents to $7.05. HSBC was the heaviest traded stock and remained unchanged at $79.50. Sino Land nudged up five cents to $5.45 while Cheung Kong gained 20 cents to $27. Hongkong Land fell 20 cents to $17.10 while Sun Hung Kai Properties lost 25 cents to $38.50.