HOT SPRINGS, VA., OCT. 8 -- Several business leaders said here today that they are concerned about the effect of rising interest rates on some sectors of the nation's economy, but do not believe the recent increase in lending rates portends more general economic problems.

Executives gathered for a meeting of the Business Council, a group of executives of the nation's largest companies, said they believe the rise in interest rates appeared to stem more from the effects of international currency fluctuations than from a too rapidly expanding economy.

"Rates are more in our view dollar-related than they are economy-related," said John F. Welch Jr., chairman of General Electric Co. and a vice chairman of the Business Council. "We don't see any trace at all of an overheating economy."

"I think there's no question that the higher the rate, {the more} it's a force to dampen the economy, but I would also say the economy is doing rather well," said Willard C. Butcher, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank.

Earlier this week, Chase Manhattan and other major banks raised their prime lending rates one half point, to 9.25 percent, the prime's highest level in nearly two years. The prime -- traditionally the rate charged to banks' most creditworthy customers -- and other interest rates have been climbing steadily for about six months. Some economists have blamed the rise on inflationary forces reappearing in the economy.

But business executives here discounted that theory, saying they believe inflation is under control. "The general feeling is that we are not, at this point, concerned about it," said John S. Reed, chairman of Citicorp, the large New York banking concern, and a vice chairman of the Business Council. "The consensus view is that it's not going to be a major uptick, although the financial markets are worried in a slightly different way ... I think the financial markets, for a while, have been concerned about inflation."

Reed said some of the recent increases in inflation figures seem to be driven by "imported inflation" -- higher prices for imported goods caused by the decline in the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. Other members of the Business Council said they, too, believe the dollar was a major factor in pushing up interest rates.

"I think the reason you're not getting, around this table, a lot of deep concern at this point on inflation is that the uptick of inflation is really due to the change in the dollar," Butcher said.

Still, he said the increase in interest rates is being felt in some parts of the economy, particularly those affecting consumers.

Bank executives here, for instance, said their mortgage business is falling sharply as higher rates scare off prospective home buyers and dry up the refinancing market that was booming a few months ago. "The mortgage side clearly has been impacted by the higher rates," Reed said. "We're seeing a very significant slowdown in terms of demand."

And Welch said GE expects flat sales in the months ahead for its large home appliances and other consumer durables as lending rates rise and the housing market dries up.