Bank customers tempted to withdraw cash from savings accounts and invest elsewhere for fear of further interest rate cuts have been warned not to be panicked into unnecessary risks. Banks said yesterday it was only natural that consumers might be concerned about another possible US Federal Reserve cut of 25 basis points tonight. Depositors with more than $10,000 receive 0.5 per cent at major banks such as Standard Chartered and HSBC, while those with less already receive nothing. HSBC general manager Raymond Or Ching-fai has said it is unlikely that all rates will reach zero, but consumers are nervous. Last month's US employment data, another sign of an impending recession in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, is likely to persuade the Federal Reserve to cut rates again today. On Friday, the Labour Department announced that the US jobless rate had increased by 0.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent from September to October, a cumulative loss of 415,000 jobs and the largest single-month jump since May 1980. HSBC head of savings and investments (personal financial services) Dorothy Sit Kwan Yin-ping said customers' worries were 'more psychological than real' about the implications of a rate cut. 'It's come to a stage where the rate is so low that whether it's zero or stays where it is, there's not much of a difference.' Hang Seng Bank senior economic manager Vincent Kwan Wing-shing said: 'When interest rates are low, there is a tendency for people to seek other things to invest in. But when you switch to other activities, you need to take into consideration the risks.' Neither banks estimated how many consumers were withdrawing money in favour of alternatives, but Ms Sit said rate cuts had increased awareness of the need for financial planning. 'In the past most people thought they might as well spend time making more money than managing their finances, but they are now recognising that the need for planning is strong.' Some might be drawn to invest in the stock market, with some analysts seeing it at a temptingly low level, she said.