China's central bank has guided some commercial banks to accelerate the pace of lending in May, four sources with knowledge of the matter said, after broad credit growth in April hit a record low.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) gave the instructions to the lenders at meetings in recent days, the sources said.

The PBOC didn't immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The central bank also hinted it would be more tolerant to banks which labeled bankers' acceptances as new loans, even though the funds do not actually flow into the real economy, a practice regulators have frowned on in past years, two of the sources said.

The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

New bank lending in China fell more than expected in April from the previous month while broad credit growth hit a record low, data from the central bank showed earlier this month, rattling investors who widely view it as a barometer of China's economic health.

Annual growth of outstanding total social financing (TSF), a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, slowed to 8.3% in April from 8.7% in March.

Analysts said the performance showed overall demand for financing in the economy is relatively weak.

The instructions also come as banks face growing profitability pressures as they are nudged by Beijing to support the economy with cheaper loans and aid the struggling property sector.

On Friday, the central bank said it would set up a relending facility for affordable housing that it says would result in 500 billion yuan ($69 billion) worth of bank financing. It would also further lower mortgage interest rates and downpayment requirements.

But banks have been reluctant to heed Beijing's repeated nudges to bolster credit to the embattled sector given the risks of more bad loans,

The PBOC urged banks to grant more loans to support the economy, but the new loan figures in May are expected to be even worse than April given lacklustre credit demand, one of the sources said. ($1 = 7.2388 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)