A United States rate cut of 75 basis points last week surprised the market but did not stimulate sentiment in the property market which remained caught in the doldrums of the traditional low season. Secondary market transactions in the 50 key housing estates monitored by Ricacorp Properties totalled 702 units, down 1.4 per cent from the 712 units sold in the previous week, recording a second consecutive weekly decline. Despite slowing sales, prices edged up 0.4 per cent, extending their advance to 23 consecutive weeks. Transactions in the 20 key housing estates in Kowloon and the nine key housing estates on Hong Kong Island each dropped 11 per cent to 252 units and 97 units, respectively; and in the New Territories, 353 units changed hands in 21 key housing estates - up 10.3 per cent from the previous week. 'Markets had widely anticipated a rate cut in the United States this week, and so the move had a limited impact,' said David Chan, a director at Ricacorp. Mr Chan forecast transactions in the secondary market would drop 20 to 30 per cent to about 500 units this week as more people would be out of town on holiday. However, prices would stay firm at current levels, he said. From January 1 to 24, 295 confirmor deals were recorded in the secondary market with a total value of HK$1.312 billion, already exceeding the 294 cases worth HK$1.221 billion recorded last month, according to Centaline Property Agency. Wong Leung-sing, an associate director at Centaline, expects more liquidity will return to the real estate market as investors quit volatile equity markets. With negative real interest rates more people would be lured to invest in fixed assets, Mr Wong said, and this might boost the number of confirmor sales to 350 this month, which would be the second-highest on record since a peak of 482 confirmor transactions in June 2005. In the primary market, transactions remained low at about 30 units sold at the weekend, property agents said.