Chinese premier says economy improving but under pressure, promises market-opening reforms

China's premier says the country's economy improved in the latest quarter but faces "downward pressure."

Premier Li Keqiang, China's top economic official, said Monday that the government will avoid "strong stimulus" but increase the strength of targeted measures to shore up growth.

Speaking at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Li promised to push ahead with market-opening reforms.

China's economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent in the first quarter over a year earlier. Li gave no indication how much stronger growth in the three months that ended in June might have been. Those data are due out next week.

Li said, "China's economic performance in the second quarter has been improved from that in the first quarter. However, we cannot lower our guard against downward pressure."