PROPERTY counters led the return to positive territory in the Hang Seng Index yesterday, after losing 169.72 points on Tuesday to 8,861.41 on a turnover of $9.55 billion. After dropping a further 129 points at the opening of trading - down almost 300 points from the record close of 9,031.13 on Monday - bargain-hunting and positive sentiment towards property counters amid rumours linked to the Central land reclamation project saw the index shoot back to end the day up 41.39 points at 8,902.8. Turnover was $7.3 billion. Futures led the cash almost all day. A key feature of trading was the significant rise in volatility. Implied volatility of the stock market is about 30 per cent, according to an estimate from Peregrine Derivatives. This follows a period in which it had fallen to about 22 per cent in the huge surge of buying during the last two weeks. The October index future contract closed at 9,005 points, up 130 points and at a 103-point premium to the cash index. Turnover in the contract was 12,714 lots, with an open interest of 18,985, down 484. Total market turnover was 16,543 lots, representing $7.33 billion in value. Sun Hung Kai Properties rose $1.25 or 2.64 per cent to $48.50 on a turnover of $205.03 million. Amid strong rumours about the redevelopment of the Hong Kong Ferry terminal in Central, Henderson Land Development saw major activity in its shares. The redevelopment would form part of the Central land reclamation works. The stock gained $1.50 to $31 on a turnover of $81.48 million. The best performer of the day was Henderson Investment, which shot up 87.5 cents or 18.7 per cent to $5.70. Swire Pacific A was the second most heavily traded stock of the day, falling 75 cents to $47.75 on a turnover of $314.41 million. HSBC, which has suffered sustained profit-taking in London since Friday, shed 50 cents to $87 on the heaviest turnover of the day of $489.46 million. Hongkong Telecom, which has also seen steady profit-taking pressure, dropped 10 cents to $15.90 on a turnover of $270.63 million. Jardine Matheson was unchanged at $72.50 on a turnover of $275.69 million, the third highest of the day. Investment holding group company Jardine Strategic fell $1 to $30 on a turnover of $253.92 million, the fifth heaviest of the day. Cheung Kong moved up 50 cents to $34 and Hutchison Whampoa added 30 to $28.70. Hong Kong and China Gas put on 90 cents to $18.60. In share volume terms, the most active stock was Allied Group, which stayed unchanged at $1.26 as more than 96 million shares changed hands. Li Ka-shing announced on Tuesday a Cheung Kong company was taking 15.45 per cent of the group. Speculation has suggested the group might become a new back-door listing at some point in the future. Allied Properties was the seventh most heavily traded stock in share volume terms, with 21.88 million units. The stock was also unchanged at $1.69. Profit-taking struck Orient Telecom, which lost 12.5 cents to $3.65. Brokers expect the index to eventually make new progress on the back of continued and persistent buying from abroad. Liquidity remains strong and local investors are retaining their holdings in a bid not to miss another major run. ''They have been reluctant to trade their holdings in the way they would traditionally take this kind of market for fear of being caught out in another wave of foreign cash,'' said a broker. Further weakness, however, was expected in London trading as dealers would mark down their stocks in a bid not to be caught out in Hong Kong trading. ''They do not know which way things will go. They could go either way from here so it is better not to be long ahead of the Hong Kong opening,'' said the broker.