THERE has probably been less frenzied activity without an apparent goal in an ant hill. Red waist-coated dealers scurried between banks of computer screens jabbing at calculators, furiously dialling telephones, yelling instructions and clutching bits of paper - all to a background cacophony of non-stop ringing telephones. But what it amounted to at the end of the day was bucks. Big bucks. Bucks so big they had to be stored in computer memory banks. More than $11 billion changed hands as records fell like tenpins. At the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong there had been only one goal for months - to bust the 10,000 mark on the Hang Seng Index in time for Christmas. And Christmas this year came early, just minutes after the opening of business on what is likely to become known as Golden Friday. Little could disguise the cash register signs in the glinting eyes of the brokers as the index rose like the temperature in a pressure cooker and then oscillated like a bucking bronco. One minute exuberant, the next grim-faced, the floor traders rode for all their worth. They started the day with champagne as within minutes of the opening of trading the index soared through the 10,000 barrier. And they ended it the same way - with rather a lot of personal commission left over for the festive season. How appropriate that the Stock Exchange plans to buy all the dealers commemorative wallets to mark the day. As the close of trading at 3.30 pm approached, the index changed by the minute, finally settling at 10,228. But although the stumps had been pulled, it was half an hour before an air of near-calm had descended. The 1,000 members on the vast trading floor were too busy settling late deals, mopping brows, downing phones with resounding and grateful crashes and relaxing their tense postures. Then, to an ear-splitting roar of approval and not a little back-slapping, Stock Market chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu and various colleagues strode to the centre of the room to accept a glass of champagne from a flunky and toast the day as historic. It was, according to one broker, a triumph of optimism over sense. But then, that has never been a major impediment to a deal, has it?