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By Benjamin Kang Lim and Kevin Yao BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned on Thursday that the economy faces "severe challenges" in 2014 - comments that came as weak data fanned speculation the central bank would relax monetary policy to support stuttering growth. Li, speaking at a news conference on the final day of China's yearly parliament, hinted Beijing would tolerate slower economic expansion this year while it pushes through reforms aimed at providing longer-term and more sustainable growth. "A storm is coming," said Gao Yuan, an analyst at Haitong Securities in Shanghai, while Hao Zhou, the China economist for ANZ said "policy easing should be imminent." At the carefully orchestrated briefing where questions had to be vetted in advance, Li spent most time discussing the economy. While acknowledging the economy faced difficulties, Li suggested Beijing would not let growth slip too far.