Hong Kong stocks finished up 0.84 percent at 13,769.06 on Monday after opening higher but then narrowing its gains thereafter.
Investors were obviously wavering between mixed sentiment, with the Hang Seng Index opening up 1.54 percent at 13,865.59, which was also the highest for the index during the day. The benchmark index once even dipped in to negative ground at 13,561.54.
Turnover rose slightly to 48.54 billion HK dollars (6.22 billion U.S. dollars) from last Friday's 45.40 billion HK dollars (5.82 billion U.S. dollars).
Analysts attributed the narrowing of gains to mild profit-taking after several gaining sessions in a row and cautious sentiment amid volatility expectations. The economic data for the Chinese mainland due on Tuesday and the progress on the United States bailout plan will be key to direction of the market, they added.
Some said the Hang Seng Index had immediate support at 13,500, while the February HSI futures were now trading a discount of around 50 points to the cash market, which signaled the market's negative bias for near term -- not so reliably, though.
Banking giant HSBC finished up 0.4 HK dollars, or 0.64 percent, at 62.5 HK dollars after once even reversing early gains to dip into negative ground. Its local unit Hang Seng Bank finished down 1.05 HK dollars, or 1.13 percent, at 92 HK dollars.
The finance sub-index finished up 88.08 points, or 0.44 percent, at 20,181.08.
ICBC, one of the largest state-owned commercial banking giants on the Chinese mainland, was down 0.01 HK dollars, or 0.27 percent at 3.64 HK dollar, and China Construction Bank added 0.03 HK dollars, or 0.73 percent, to finish at 4.12 HK dollars.
Bank of China was down 0.02 HK dollars, or 0.92 percent, at 2. 16 HK dollars, while BOC Hong Kong ended at 8.18 HK dollars, up 0.02 HK dollars, or 0.24 percent.
China Life, one of the mainland's leading insurance players, lost 0.21 percent at 23.5 HK dollars, and Ping An fared better to gain 0.3 HK dollars, or 0.81 percent.
The properties sub-index advanced 344.44 points, or 2.12 percent, at 16,586.15. Sun Hung Kai Properties, the leading residential developer in Hong Kong, added 2.85 percent to close at66.85 HK dollars, while Cheung Kong, the conglomerate headed by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, was up 2.1 percent at 67.9 HK dollars.
The utilities category shed 0.63 percent to close at 34,074.01,and the commerce and industry sub-index advanced 1.14 percent to end at 7,709.20.
China Mobile, the leading telecom operator on the mainland, lost 0.15 HK dollars at 75.75 HK dollars under short selling pressures, while its competitor China Unicom surged 0.44 HK dollars, or 5.99 percent, at 7.79 HK dollars.
The mainland-based energy chips were higher, with PetroChina up1.42 percent, Sinopec up 1.75 percent and offshore oil producer CNOOC up 2.22 percent. China Shenhua, the mainland coal conglomerate, added 2.3 percent at 18.7 HK dollars.
China COSCO, the dry bulk shipper, was up 3.26 percent at 5.71 HK dollars.
HKEx, the only stock exchange in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, was up 1 HK dollar, or 1.47 percent, at 68.95 HK dollars. (7.8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar)