Hong Kong banks are under increasing pressure to raise the lending rates they charge consumers, even though central banks around the world have cut interest rates to ease the financial crisis and avert a global recession. Despite the global rate cut, interbank rates - the interest rate banks charge each other - have been rising, primarily because lending banks are fearful of not being repaid. As a result, banks are reluctant to lower their prime lending rates, a benchmark against which they set a variety of rates on mortgages and some business loans. 'It's not easy to see how the prime lending rate can come down,' Hong Kong Association of Banks chairman He Guangbei said. The one-month interbank rate rose yesterday to 5.5 per cent in the late session, while the three-month interest rate stood at 4.4 per cent, the highest in about a year. Prime lending rates stand at 5.25 per cent and 5.5 per cent. A banker who asked not to be named said there was growing pressure for lenders to increase their prime rates or other lending rates because the interbank rate remained stubbornly high. 'Banks are losing money as the mortgage rate stands at about 3.25 per cent but the cost of funds is higher than that,' he said. Lenders kept their prime rates unchanged on Thursday after the interest rate cut in the United States. Consumers are getting some benefit, however. Some banks have increased their time deposit rates, which usually track interbank rates. Saving deposit rates, which are close to zero, remain unchanged. The one-month time deposit rate for amounts over HK$400,000 quoted by Bank of East Asia yesterday was 4.3375 per cent, compared with 3.8875 per cent on Thursday. Dah Sing Bank offered 3.4 per cent for time deposits below HK$500,000, compared with 3.1 per cent previously. However, HSBC's one-month time deposit for amounts below HK$500,000 is 0.25 per cent.