BEIJING--Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said economic growth higher or lower than 7.5% is acceptable as long as the growth ensures there are enough jobs, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

Mr. Li's remark came after China reported a 7.4% economic growth in the first half of the year, slightly below the government's target of 7.5% for 2014.

"A growth rate slightly higher or lower than 7.5% is acceptable, as long as our development creates jobs, boosts incomes, is high-quality and efficient, and is energy-saving and environmentally-friendly, and is real and not inflated," said Mr. Li at a symposium with a group of economists on Tuesday, according to Xinhua.

Beijing has set an annual economic growth target of around 7.5% and an inflation targetat around 3.5% for this year. But the world's second-largest economy has been facing headwinds since the beginning of this year as the once red-hot housing market cooled considerably and a buildup of debt increases credit risks.

China's economic growth slowed to 7.4% in the first quarter but picked up to 7.5% in the second quarter thanks to supportive measures from the government.

Mr. Li said at the symposium that Beijing won't resort to opening the credit floodgates, but instead should rely on reforms and targeted easing policies.

China's central bank has twice lowered the reserve requirement ratio for small lenders this year, as part of its "targeted easing" measures to pump more money into the sluggish economy.

Helped by the easing policies, Chinese banks issued 1.08 trillion yuan ($174.2 billion) in new loans in June, jumping from 870.8 billion yuan of new loans in May and beating market expectations.

Write to Grace Zhu at grace.zhu@dowjones.com and Richard Silk at richard.silk@dowjones.com

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July 17, 2014 23:45 ET (03:45 GMT)

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