Hong Kong lenders are likely to match any expected move by the United States Federal Reserve this week to leave interest rates unchanged. Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, HSBC's global co-head of commercial banking, said the latest US economic data shows modest inflation. 'Analysts widely expect interest rates to be put on hold [at Wednesday's Federal Open Market Committee meeting],' she said. The US put the brakes on rates last month for the first time after 17 consecutive rises from June 2004. 'It's unnecessary for Hong Kong [banks] to raise [their] rates as there is ample liquidity [in the banking system] and interbank rates are at a low level,' she said. Overnight rates stood at 3 per cent and one-month interbank rates at 3.985 per cent on Friday last week, unchanged from the same period last month. Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, a director and deputy general manager at ICBC (Asia), said Hong Kong rates are likely to stay unchanged as several firms, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, are lining up to list in Hong Kong. Mrs Leung said it is unlikely that Hong Kong banks will cut lending rates despite interbank rates being low, as US economic figures are mixed. She said US rates might have reached a peak but it is too early to say when these will come down. 'I think there won't be any interest rate cuts [in the US] until the second half of next year,' she added. Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong, head of consumer banking at DBS Bank (HK), said lenders will keep their prime rates and savings deposit rates unchanged. Bank of China (HK) surprised the market last month by cutting its prime lending rate and savings deposit rate 25 basis points to tighten its position in the mortgage market despite its rivals leaving their rates unchanged after the US held off raising the benchmark rate. Mr Cheung said it is unlikely other lenders will cut interest rates to increase their competitiveness in the mortgage market. The prime lending rate at HSBC, Hang Seng Bank and BOC (HK) stands at 8 per cent, while that of other lenders, including Standard Chartered Bank (HK), Bank of East Asia and DBS (HK), is 8.25 per cent. Market watchers believe the stable interest rate environment will stimulate investment interest in equities and properties.