Dow rebound spurs return of foreign buyers

Carrie Lee

FOREIGN investors flocked back into the Hong Kong stock market yesterday in the wake of an upswing on Wall Street, powering the territory's market to a substantial rebound.

The Hang Seng Index vaulted 204.4 points, or 2.26 per cent, to 9,234.31 on a meagre turnover of $4.26 billion as 655.01 million shares were dealt.

Brokers said a rekindled interest in Hong Kong stocks in anticipation of rallies in the second quarter, and the strength of other Asian markets, also helped buttress the exchange.

On Tuesday night, the price of the US Treasury's benchmark 30-year bond closed up 1.75 per cent or US$17.50 per $1,000 bond, as the yield fell 16 basis points to 7.25 per cent - the biggest decline since January 17, 1991, according to Bloomberg data.

That, interpreted as a relief in the tension for an interest rate rise, saw the Dow Jones industrial average rise 82.06 points to close at 3,675.41.

''People are quite relieved that Wall Street recovered [on Tuesday night],'' said Morgan Grenfell sales director David Lavington. ''This market is still very much dictated by Wall Street and global markets.


''If we had been opened [on Tuesday], we would have had a bad day.'' However, some brokers attributed yesterday's rebound to a renewed appetite for the Hong Kong market in anticipation of good performances in the second quarter after the 24 per cent fall in the first quarter.

''I think the market would probably have rallied even if New York hadn't recovered,'' said Barclays de Zoete Wedd assistant director Nial Gooding.

He attributed the bounce to ''anticipation of a good quarter after a very bad one, and anticipation of a little more money flowing into Asia''.

The market saw no sellers or major buyers, with orders - predominantly overseas - coming from everywhere.


Mr Lavington said the market was that of traders', with low volumes and short-term money, but little longer-term institutional investment.

''People are looking very much on short-term movement. The market is very much driven by short-term trading,'' he said.


Buying was focused on blue chips, with non-index constituent stocks posting small volumes.

Mr Lavington said the market sentiment was good, but fickle, while Mr Gooding described it as ''confident'' and ''relaxed''.

Opening at the day's trough of 9,098.64 points, the index jumped away to about 9,280 before taking a breather.


''With the good performance on Wall Street overnight, and the smooth opening of the markets in Singapore, Japan and Malaysia, the local market rebounded right at the beginning,'' said OCBC Securities senior manager Philip Leung.

''In the first hour and a half, there was keener interest in the market as reflected by the activity. But that died away later,'' he said.

Of the Hang Seng sectoral sub-indices, utilities fared best on the back of rises in Hongkong Telecom and China Light and Power.


Mr Gooding said they were classic foreigners' stocks, indicating the return of confidence in the territory. The sector surged 362.07 points, or 3.73 per cent, to 10,077.32.

Commercial and industrials were another category of big gainers, soaring 217.32 points, or 3.13 per cent, to 7,156.92.

Mr Leung said the two sectors were being over-weighted.

Meanwhile, property clawed back 207.38 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 17,119.72, while finance edged up 86.19 points, or 1.16 per cent, to 7,488.79.

Television Broadcasts was the biggest gainer among the blue chips, pushing up $1.90 or 6.96 per cent to $29.20 as the day's ninth best performer in percentage terms. Shares worth $17.89 million were traded.

Of the 10 busiest stocks in monetary terms, CITIC Pacific made the greatest percentage leap to add $1.10, or 5.06 per cent, to $22.80 on a turnover of $181.75 million.

Hongkong Telecom rose 60 cents or 4.68 per cent to $13.40 as shares worth $143.70 million changed hands.

Hutchison Whampoa went up $1.25, or 3.96 per cent, to $32.75 as shares worth $232.04 million were traded.

Swire Pacific A put on $2, or 3.73 per cent, to $55.50 on a turnover of $170.88 million.

China Light and Power gained $1.25, or 3.14 per cent, to $41, posting a turnover of $131.95 million.

Wheelock and Co bought back 320,000 shares at prices between $15.90 and $16.90 a share last Thursday, according to trading records released by the stock exchange yesterday.