SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has sent teams of officials to seven regions to investigate a rapid slowdown in private investment, the country's cabinet said late on Thursday.

The State Council has sent officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the industry ministry and several other departments to the capital Beijing and the provinces of Liaoning, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, Hubei and Qinghai.

The teams will examine the way local governments have been implementing measures designed to stimulate investment and create a level playing field for private businesses, which have been struggling to gain access to funding and markets.

China's economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter of 2016 as a result of a housing boom and government infrastructure spending.

But growth in investment by private firms, which accounts for over 60 percent of total investment in China, fell to a new record low in the first half of the year as businesses retrench in the face of a sluggish economic outlook and weak exports.

Chinese banks typically prefer the security of state-owned borrowers. Private firms had to pay 6 percentage points more in interest for bank loans in the second quarter versus the public sector, analysts at investment bank CICC estimate.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Richard Pullin)