Mainland utilities firms could be the worst-performing constituents of China-related indices next year, as rising coal prices and potential tariff cuts threaten a slump in profits for power producers, Standard Chartered said yesterday. Erwin Sanft, head of China and Hong Kong equity research at the bank, said he expected profits in the mainland utility sector to slump by an average of 30 per cent next year, compared with the average 12.9 per cent earnings growth predicted for firms in the MSCI All China Index next year. "We are expecting at least one [on-grid] tariff cut in January and the government may take further cuts in the rest of the year," Sanft said yesterday. The central government announced a cut in the electricity charges last month in a bid to improve air quality. Besides utilities, Hong Kong property stocks are expected to be another big drag on the city's equity market next year, with expectations of a 10 per cent to 15 per cent decline in prices for private residential property in the next two years. "Hong Kong developer stocks are trading at a 45 per cent discount to their estimated net asset value. However, stock prices would struggle to go up amid declining property prices," Sanft said. The bank expects the benchmark Hang Seng Index to swing between 24,000 and 28,000 points next year, with the outperformers being industrials, consumer plays and banks. It expects the H-share index - which closed at 11,302.03 points yesterday - to trade between 12,000 and 15,000. Sun Hung Kai Financial is expecting the Hang Seng Index to reach 25,000 points by the end of next year. Goldman Sachs raised its forecast for next year to 26,500 on Monday. The benchmark was little changed yesterday, closing at 23,681.28 points.