Beijing — China stepped up its push to curb financial risk, cutting its budget deficit target for the first time since 2012 and setting a growth goal of about 6.5%, omitting last year’s aim for a faster pace if possible. The deficit target — released on Monday as Premier Li Keqiang delivered his annual report to the National People’s Congress in Beijing — was lowered to 2.6% of GDP from 3% in the past two years. The 6.5% goal is consistent with President Xi Jinping’s promise to deliver a "moderately prosperous" society by 2020. Policy makers dropped a target for M2 money supply growth, saying it was expected to expand at a similar pace to last year. Authorities reiterated prior language saying prudent monetary policy will remain neutral this year and that they will ensure liquidity at a reasonable and stable level. Xi has ratcheted up his drive to curb debt risk, pollution and poverty at a time when the world’s second-largest economy is on a long-term growth slowdown. His efforts to...

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