Sales of structured products at HSBC rose a comparative 25 per cent for the first nine months of this year, as the uncertain economic outlook prompted investors to look for low-risk investments offering better returns than fixed deposits. Structured products, including guaranteed funds, structured notes and high-yield deposits, contributed more than 50 per cent of the bank's investment products sales. 'During the second and third quarter there have been so many uncertainties in the market,' said Catherine Cheung, the head of wealth management services at Hong Kong's largest bank. 'First, we had the macroeconomic control measures in the mainland, then the sudden oil price [increase] and the rise in US interest rates.' Several leading banks lowered their time deposit rates last week, after having raised savings rates in August and the prime lending rate last month, the first such adjustments in four years. The bank has not seen obvious correlations between the changes in interest rates and the demand for structured products this year. 'We haven't seen any drastic changes in customer choices that can be attributed to interest-rate movements,' Ms Cheung said. 'When choosing investments these days they tend to consider the overall market conditions.' Entering the fourth quarter, HSBC has noted a recovery in stock-trading activities among its customers, which has taken a dip when the stock market slowed in the second quarter. Nevertheless, Ms Cheung expects demand for structured products, particularly high-yield deposits linked with foreign currencies or stocks, to remain strong next year, assuming the factors of uncertainty remain in play. Overall, the bank's investment product sales jumped 45 per cent in the first nine months, with unit trust sales recording 200 per cent growth. Ms Cheung said the bank would continue to bolster distribution channels for its investment products, with particular focus on upgrading internet services.