China plays also gain in active buying as punters shrug off the Fed's expected increase in interest rates Buyers returned to Hong Kong blue chips yesterday after a one-day breather as oil prices continued to decline and punters decided there was not much point waiting for the US Federal Reserve's statement on interest rates. Buying was active across the board with $21.44 billion worth of shares changing hands - making it the busiest day since early last month. China-related H shares gained for the fourth day amid ongoing speculation about a revaluation of the yuan. Data showing a slowdown in industrial production in the mainland last month gave support as it sparked hopes an economic slowdown can be engineered without interest rates having to go up too aggressively. Traders said China plays were also boosted by a rise in A shares as investors bought large caps on reports that Beijing was quickening efforts to lure company pensions into stocks. The Hang Seng Index rose 1.15 per cent, or 155.7 points, and finished at its day high of 13,672.37. The gain resulted in a fresh eight-month high, but what was more important, some traders said, was the break above 13,600. 'This is very, very positive, and if we can hold above here for the rest of the week it is very good news for the market,' said Andrew Clarke, a sales trader with Kim Eng Securities. This level, he said, had posed significant technical resistance for the HSI on multiple occasions dating back as far as 1999 and if there was a significant break the index could go all the way to 14,600-14,800. Others were more cautious, noting that the relative strength index indicated the Hang Seng Index was overbought. 'A correction can come at any time,' said KGI Asia associate director Ben Kwong, noting that the recent rally had been driven mainly by liquidity - part of which had found its way to Hong Kong because of the speculation of a yuan appreciation. However, with Hong Kong lending rates seen to stay unchanged even as the Federal Reserve was expected to raise its key target rate by another 25 basis points, some investors might also be drawn here because of the cheaper borrowing costs, Mr Kwong said. Property stocks also benefited from the low interest rate scenario, which is seen to underpin demand for new homes as it keeps mortgage costs down. Cheung Kong gained 1.5 per cent to $67.50 and Sun Hung Kai Properties added 0.99 per cent to $76.25, while Swire Pacific and Wharf rose just above 2 per cent each. HSBC also resumed its uptrend after a slight decline on Tuesday. The banking giant rose by $1.50, or 1.15 per cent, to finish at a new high of $132.50. Airlines were also strong after the price of crude oil for December delivery on Nymex dropped 3.5 per cent overnight and edged yet a bit lower to US$47.10 during Asian trading hours. Cathay Pacific Airways gained 1.48 per cent to $13.75 and China Southern Airlines surged 5.26 per cent to $3. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, which operates the stock exchange, ended up 1.36 per cent at $18.65 after the company posted a better than expected net profit of $251 million for the third quarter, thanks to higher trading volumes and a pick-up in new listings. H shares were bought pretty much across the board, but steel and metals companies as well as insurance firms outperformed. Angang New Steel rose 5.22 per cent, Jiangxi Copper added 4.09 per cent and China Life Insurance was up 3.7 per cent. The H-share index finished up 1.89 per cent, or 89.08 points, at 4,797.77 - only 21 points below the six-month high set on October 7. Traders said the index was still playing catch-up with the blue-chip gauge and the renewed positive sentiment for H shares had prompted many retail investors to switch out of some of the small caps that have been actively traded in the past week - notably the so-called Macau-concept stocks - and instead chase the China plays. Among the losers related to Macau were Emperor Entertainment, which fell 17.61 per cent to 1.31, and Melco International, which dropped 16.1 per cent to $8.80. Travel services operator Macau Success jumped 52.69 per cent to $1.42, however, as it resumed trading after announcing it will boost its stake in a joint venture that is developing a $1.2 billion theme park in Macau.