Turnover climbs as dearth of good news keeps up selling pressure Rising oil prices and a Wall Street slump hit Hong Kong's stock market yesterday as the Hang Seng Index ended down for a second week. The fall in the blue-chip index wiped out the previous two days' gains, plunging as much as 171.23 points during the day to an intraday low of 13,411.31. The loss narrowed to 78.5 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 13,494.78, and the index ended the week down 84.08 points. The H-share index fell 47.5 points, or 1 per cent, to 4,540.6, ending the week up 27.57 points. Turnover rose $1.15 billion to $20.73 billion, a sign that selling pressure remained strong. 'There wasn't any good news to support the market going up. People are hesitant to do anything,' said Celestial Asia Securities research director Herbert Lau. 'Clouded by rising oil prices and concern about interest-rate hikes, it looks like the bears have the upper hand,' said Mr Lau. Crude oil futures for February delivery extended Thursday's gains in New York to as high as US$48.40 per barrel in Asian trading, up from US$46.37 on Wednesday. High oil prices trimmed airlines' share prices. Air China fell 0.87 per cent to $2.85, while its strategic investor Cathay Pacific Airways lost 0.69 per cent to $14.25. All three other listed Chinese air carriers fell. China Southern Airlines shed 5.2 per cent to $2.725, followed by China National Aviation's 2.8 per cent dip and China Eastern Airlines' 1.8 per cent drop. Twenty-five of the HSI constituents closed lower, with Denway Motors down 3.85 per cent after General Motors said fourth-quarter earnings fell short of expectation. Brilliance China Automotive slid 4.2 per cent to $1.36 after Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Securities lowered their profit forecasts. Esprit declined 1 per cent to $45.60 despite a profit forecast upgrade by Citigroup. The US investment bank raised its estimates of Esprit's 2005-07 earnings by 8 per cent on expectation of larger retail margins and higher euro-US dollar exchange rates. Citigroup raised its 12-month target price for Esprit to $52 per share, up from $48. PCCW fell 1.56 per cent to $4.725 amid concerns about increasing competition after the telecommunications regulator removed its dominant carrier status, allowing it to set its own tariff. 'The market lacks direction right now. The US economic data have been sending mix signals,' said Frederick Tsang, head of research at China Everbright. Mr Tsang expects the market to consolidate further at the 13,000-point level but does not see a massive decline. Telecommunications equipment supplier ZTE bucked the trend, gaining 0.2 per cent to $24.35 after announcing contract sales last year surged 43.96 per cent to 34 billion yuan. Macau stocks continued to undergo major technical corrections that dampened sentiment. Emperor China fell 10.34 per cent to $1.95. K Wah International dropped 8.6 per cent to $2.375. But Melco International gained 4.2 per cent to $15.90.