Chinese Estates the star performer

TRADING in Chinese Estates Holdings dominated the market yesterday with a blistering surge in value and turnover.

The share was the second heaviest traded, ousting the likes of HSBC and Hutchison from the top slots.

The counter soared 15.39 per cent to close $1 higher at $7.50 with $276.5 million worth of shares traded.

Chinese Estates was at the centre of a controversial plan by controlling owners the Lay Brothers to turn the company into a private entity two years ago.

The company has also been one of the most consistent buyers of its own shares.

Shares in clothing retailer Joyce boutique continued to fall yesterday, dropping 10 cents to $1.37.

The counter has been sold off since reports that it would address the problem of not having enough shares in the market.

Analysts have interpreted this as meaning the company may look to raise additional funds through a rights issue, which may have the effect of diluting shareholders' stocks.

The company is expected to make a decision on the issue of new shares at its board meeting next month, and analysts expect it has been sounding out the market for a reaction before a final decision is made.

The company has plans to expand into other Asian countries including China, Taiwan and the Philippines. It already has a store in Taiwan and is planning to open two more.

According to Sun Hung Kai analyst Lillian Ma, the Taiwan operations are doing better than expected, and the company may soon open a shop in Thailand.

On the drop in share price, she said: ''I expect there is some consolidation because when the market was down, the lack of liquidity made it hard for people to trade shares in Joyce.'' She said the company had not determined if it would issue new shares, but said that if it did, the share price would probably fall.