China has reduced the minimum level of reserves its banks are required to hold in a new move to reverse a deepening economic slowdown.

The central bank said Wednesday it was reducing the amount most of China's commercial banks are required to hold in reserves by at least 0.5 percent of their deposits. It gave no indication how much additional money would be available for lending as a result of that.

The central bank said it was trying to increase the banking industry's support for small and rural enterprises, construction of water projects and other activity.

Private sector analysts have expected new stimulus measures after last year's economic growth slumped to a 24-year low of 7.4 percent.