BEIJING, April 12 (Reuters) - Chinese banks extended 3.09 trillion yuan ($426.95 billion) in new yuan loans in March, up from February but falling short of analyst expectations.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would soar to 3.56 trillion yuan in March from 1.45 trillion yuan the previous month.

Data released by the People's Bank of China on Friday showed new loans totaled 9.46 trillion yuan in the first quarter. The central bank did not give figures for March alone; Reuters calculations based on the central bank data showed new loans were 3.09 trillion yuan.

Broad M2 money supply grew 8.3% from a year earlier, central bank data showed, below estimates of 8.7% forecast in the Reuters poll. M2 grew 8.7% in February from a year earlier.

Outstanding yuan loans grew 9.6% in March from a year earlier compared with 10.1% in February. Analysts had expected 9.9% growth.

China has set an economic growth target for 2024 of around 5%, which many analysts say will be a challenge to achieve without much more stimulus. ($1 = 7.2374 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Judy Hua and Kevin Yao Editing by Peter Graff)