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China urges more support for contact-intensive service sector

BEIJING, April 20 (Reuters) - China's central bank and insurance regulator urged financial institutions to step up support for the contact-intensive service sector and small firms impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks.

Financial support should be also prioritised to key sectors including freight logistics and consumption, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement issued on Wednesday, following a meeting attended by top finance regulatory officials a day earlier.

Flexible adjustments should be made to mortgage payment schedules for home buyers impacted by COVID outbreaks, the PBOC said in a statement.

The PBOC said on Friday it would cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves for the first time this year, releasing about 530 billion yuan ($83.25 billion) in long-term liquidity to bolster slowing economic growth, effective from April 25.

And in Wednesday's statement, the PBOC said the effectiveness of policy depended on monetary adjustments being fully passed on to the economy in order to release the benefits as early as possible.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 4.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, but a slowdown evident in data for March casts a risk over the outlook for the world's second-largest economy.

Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of the PBOC and Xiao Yuanqi, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission attended the meeting. (Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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