China cut the amount of cash that banks must set aside as reserves for the second time in three months to spur lending as Europe's debt crisis and a cooling property market threaten economic growth.

Reserve requirements will fall by 50 basis points effective Feb. 24, the People's Bank of China said on its Saturday. Before the move, the ratio for the nation's largest lenders stood at 21 percent.

Premier Wen Jiabao aims to steer the world's second-biggest economy through a property market slowdown and the weakest export growth since 2009, with the commerce ministry last week calling the trade outlook "grim." The International Monetary Fund said this month that China's expansion may be cut almost in half if Europe's debt crisis worsens.

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