Heavyweights give different views on Katrina's impact on Fed's decisions The Hang Seng Index ended flat yesterday as investors had mixed views on the interest-rate outlook after comments by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago president Michael Moskow a day earlier. Mr Moskow said rising inflation pressures should be addressed with appropriate increases in interest rates, even though Hurricane Katrina may temporarily restrain growth in the United States. This was in contrast to the view of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chairman David Eldon, who told a London School of Economics Asia Forum yesterday that Hurricane Katrina would likely slow the US interest-rate hikes. 'The market originally expected the Fed to take a break from rate rises at its September 20 meeting, but the message is becoming blurred now,' said Francis Lun Sheung-nim, a general manager at Fulbright Securities. 'It was reflected in the little ups and downs in directionless trading.' The benchmark index finished 0.4 of a point lower at 15,165.77 after testing the psychologically important 15,000 level in the morning. Turnover was flat at $16.87 billion compared with Thursday's $16.85 billion. Interest-rate sensitive HSBC fell 0.24 per cent to $126.70 while subsidiary Hang Seng Bank inched down 0.19 per cent to $105.10. Other banking stocks also saw selling pressure, with Bank of China falling 0.63 per cent to $15.75 and Bank of East Asia finishing 0.22 per cent lower at $22.85. In contrast, interest-rate sensitive property stocks generally saw support. Henderson Land edged up 0.13 per cent to $39.40, Sun Hung Kai Properties added 0.24 per cent to $82.50 and Sino Land rose 0.55 per cent to $9.20. Kenny Tang Sing-hing, associate director at Tung Tai Securities, said property stocks had consolidated in the past few weeks but should benefit when Disneyland opens its doors on Monday. CNOOC and Sinopec rose after Goldman Sachs said in a report that the stocks were among its top picks in the Asian energy industry. The investment bank said it expects the oil stocks to have strong earnings growth in the next two years amid rising oil prices. CNOOC ended 0.93 per cent higher at $5.45 while Sinopec gained 0.71 per cent to $3.525. Bigger rival PetroChina finished unchanged at $6.20. Helped by China Shenhua Energy, the H-share index outperformed the blue-chip index, adding 8.81 points, or 0.16 per cent, to end the day at 5,137.44. Shenhua Energy was the top H-share gainer, surging 1.69 per cent to $9. Warrant issuers will issue 19 Shenhua warrants on Monday and brokers say investors are buying to catch the potential upside. Regal Hotel International lost for the second straight day, diving 7.35 per cent to 63 cents on turnover of $270 million. The counter has now fallen 10 per cent since the company said on Wednesday that it had pulled out of a joint venture with leading United States casino operator Venetian Group in Macau's Cotai Strip and planned to go ahead with the project on its own. Trading in warrants remained active after the Securities and Futures Commission said on Thursday that it had launched a probe into allegations of market rigging. Yesterday's warrants trading accounted for 21.89 per cent of the total market turnover, compared with 22.12 per cent on Thursday.