Hong Kong stocks fell yesterday, dragging down the benchmark index for the fifth consecutive week and eighth in the past nine, as investors shunned the market amid mounting concerns about the global economy. The Hang Seng Index dropped 5.35 per cent for the week after sliding 528.71 points or 2.9 per cent yesterday to close at 17,682.4. The index's five-week losing streak marked its longest in eight months. 'People think the global economy will slow down or even decline in the near future,' said Kingston Lin King-kam, an associate director at Prudential Brokerage. 'So if there is no good news in the market, investors will just sell their shares before the weekend.' Already squeamish about the United States economy, investors were further alarmed after the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that a downturn in the world's largest economy could grow into something much more severe. Gloomy forecasts relegated another important vote on the US rescue plan to the backburner. 'While the markets have been distracted by the Congress vote over the proposed US$700 billion bank bailout, equity, commodity and foreign exchange markets have been clearing themselves out,' Sean Darby, the head of regional strategy at Nomura, wrote in a research note. Wall Street stocks rose yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 155.55 points or 1.48 per cent by noon while the S&P 500 Index added 22.14 points or 1.99 per cent. In London, the FTSE-100 Index closed 109.91 points or 2.26 per cent higher. Benchmarks were down across most of the region yesterday. Japan fell 1.94 per cent, the Philippines lost 1.79 per cent and Malaysia edged down 0.19 per cent. Taiwan bucked the trend to gain 0.68 per cent. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges were closed this week for the National Day holiday. In Hong Kong, investors mostly stuck to the sidelines yesterday with turnover at HK$53.28 billion. Mr Lin said that with little interest supporting the market, the Hang Seng Index could crash below 16,000 points by the end of this year. It might move between 16,000 and 19,000 points this month, he added. 'I don't think the market has touched the floor,' said Winson Fong, a managing director at SG Asset Management. Mr Fong said some hedge funds would sell down their portfolios in the next two months as part of client redemptions after the market slump. Mainland property stocks might draw in some bargain hunters in the near term as more talk circulated that mainland authorities would further reduce tightening measures, said Chan Yuk-keung, a fund manager at Phillip Asset management.