Sun Hung Kai Properties
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Turnover shrivels up on dearth of big news

Agatha Ngai

TURNOVER slipped to a three-month low at $1.96 billion, with an absence of positive news keeping buyers sidelined.

The last time volume was this low was July 11, when turnover was $1.82 billion.

With the cautious sentiment, the Hang Seng Index gained a marginal 5.94 points, or 0.06 per, cent to 9,252.44.

Minor rebounds occurred throughout the day, with much strong buying support seen at the 9,220 level.

Most investors preferred to take a wait and see approach under the cloud cast by uncertainties on Wall Street.

Brokers are increasingly pessimistic about any meaningful year-end rally.

The market is down 652.53 points since the high of 10,145.02 on September 9.

Blue chips were the trading focus, accounting for 64.48 per cent of total turnover with some major institutions on the selling side.

H shares gleaned only 2.71 per cent, with inflation fears in China making them less attractive.

Dealers said investors were waiting to see whether the US market would stabilise.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 4.71 points on Tuesday, causing players to wonder if it spelled an end to further declines.

An expected US interest rate rise of 0.5 per cent next month, high 30-year bond yields and a weak dollar continued to dominate sentiment in equity markets around the world.

Of more particular concern to Hong Kong is inflation on the mainland, which might be more than 20 per cent this year.

In a recent analysis by Fortune magazine, Hong Kong was selected as the best place for investment.

The territory beat out London and New York because of its proximity to and good business relationship with China.

However, concerns over inflation and the slowdown in the market may have investors rethinking their short-term investment strategies.

Property and finance counters were casualties yesterday, in spite of recent upward adjustments in prices for some major residential developments.

Investors still doubted the property market as fears of interest rate rises intensified, said analysts.

Smith New Court analyst Walter Chan said recent price adjustments could only be seen as a sign of stabilisation.

However, he expected no sharp rises in the future for apartment prices.

'An increase of $200 a square foot in the price for flats of Block 14, Pristine Villa, New Territories, by Sun Hung Kai Properties, is only viewed as a natural adjustment, because the location and the surrounding of the block is the best, compared to the others.' SHK Properties showed no changes after the day's trading, holding at $56.25 on turnover of $55.12 million.

Cheung Kong has raised the price for an additional 152 units in the Bayshore Tower One to $5,000 a sq ft, compared with $4,400 for the first batch of 120 flats.

In trading yesterday the company lost 10 cents, or 0.28 per cent, to close at $35.60.

It was the third most-active stock on turnover of $105.76 million.

Under the pressure of a 41-point fall in Hong Kong stocks traded in London overnight, which touched 9,205, the market slid at the opening.

The index sunk to the day's low of 9,208.34 within 15 minutes.

Then selective buying was seen at the low prices.

Conglomerate Swire Pacific A was the best index performer, its price rising 75 cents to $55.50, up 1.37 per cent.

Turnover was $73.70 million.

HSBC Holdings continued its decline.

The heaviest-traded counter closed at $88, down 25 cents, or 0.28 per cent, on turnover of $180.35 million.