Share prices closed the morning slightly higher in tandem with the rise on Wall Street overnight but the market lacked a clear direction in the run-up to the Sept 11 anniversary as well as uncertainty over whether the US would lead a strike against Iraq, dealers said.
Property stocks rebounded technically ahead of the land auction, they said, noting that the two sites up for sale are too small to give a meaningful indication about the state of the property market.
The Hang Seng index closed up 72.23 points or 0.74% at 9,795.90, off a high of 9,846.69 and a low of 9,761.10.
The Hang Seng September contract was at 9,805 points.
The China Enterprises index was up 33.31 points at 1,968.61, while the CAC index was up 6.61 points at 1,084.67.
The GEM index was up 1.15 points at 134.00.
Peter Lau, associate director of OCBC Securities, said trading was directionless, with the modest gains driven solely by the firmer US equities overnight.
He said the underlying sentiment remained cautious in the run-up to the first anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks and increasing geopolitical tension in the Middle East.
"Mounting political tensions (over a possible strike on) Iraq and the upcoming fund raising activities from Standard Chartered Bank and China Telecom also added to the market caution," he said.
Property stocks rebounded technically ahead of the land auction in the afternoon, Lau said, noting that most homebuyers have remained reluctant to take up mortgages.