SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- China's central bank said Saturday it will expand a pilot scheme on relending, the latest effort by Beijing to help support a slowing economy. The scheme, which allows banks to refinance high-quality credit assets rated by the central bank, was introduced in Guangdong and Shandong provinces last year. Analysts have said the policy tool is aimed at supporting smaller firms.

It will be expanded to include Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing, as well as six other provinces and municipalities, the People's Bank of China said in a statement posted on its website.

Beijing has taken a raft of measures -- such as cutting interest rates, lowering reserve requirements and extending medium-term lending facilities -- in a bid to support the world's second-biggest economy.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada and Kevin Yao; Editing by Susan Fenton)