STOCKS were unable to hold on to their gains yesterday in the face of weak overseas markets. The Hang Seng Index fell marginally, closing 14.89 points lower at 10,150.98. Volume remained robust with $6.2 billion turnover. The fall was in line with regional markets, and brokers said it was surprising the Hong Kong market did not fall further. This comes on the back of a week of declines in European and US markets, brought on by jittery bond markets. 'All we are seeing is a little consolidation,' said an American broker. 'This market wanted to go higher but it was fighting a bad tape in Singapore, Thailand, and Japan,' he added. The buyers are there, but they are reluctant to chase prices because of weaknesses in other markets. Baring Securities assistant director James Slade said there was still a fair amount of support from overseas buyers, adding that the flow of orders from institutional clients had picked up. Key players yesterday were the Japanese, who remained on the buy side, while selling was mainly from local players through the futures market. Worldsec, Sun Hung Kai and Seapower were active in the futures market, reportedly acting for local clients. But it was afternoon buying from the Japanese which helped the market pick up and close near the day's high. Yamaichi sales director Gary Wong said: 'The Japanese have been buying like crazy today. 'There is excess cash in Tokyo, mainly from retail investors, and it is flooding in here.' He said Japanese investors were favouring H shares, especially ones like Qingling Motors, which has a joint venture with Japanese car company Isuzu. Japanese clients were also buying selective blue chips like HAECO, which has been largely overlooked in the last week's rally. HAECO shares were the third best performing shares on a net gain basis, closing up $1.40 to $36.90. Yesterday, the Nikkei broke through the critical 20,000 mark and looked like sliding further as confidence eroded. The possibility that the yen might start to depreciate had given investors a feeling that they only had limited time to profit from overseas markets, and that was why they were putting their money in Hong Kong, brokers said. The Hang Seng Index has rallied in the face of weaker overseas markets, and brokers said that for it to really fly we would need to see those markets post solid gains. The one lurking danger is the US market, where traders feel there may be further falls as investors sell their cash positions and buy October futures to take advantage of pricing differences. American brokers said that was one reason their clients were quieter yesterday, although that situation could quickly change again. Property counters were again the strongest sector, with the properties sub index gaining 1.57 per cent on the day. Shares in Cheung Kong continued to rally, closing 20 cents higher at $40.20. Brokers said the counter was a favourite with American investors, as well as Sun Hung Kai Properties, which gained $1.75 to close at $60.50. HSBC Holdings saw some consolidation, falling 25 cents to close at $93.75 Swire Pacific A was one of the biggest losers, closing 75 cents lower at $64, although traders reckoned there was still a lot of strength in the counter. Utility shares were the weakest, with Hong Kong Telecom closing 35 cents lower at $16.25. Brokers said there was a lot of arbitrage activity and switching into Cable and Wireless shares in London.