U.S. Budget Gap Narrows to $65 Billion

It was the 18th consecutive month of federal red ink.

The U.S. budget shortfall was $65.39 billion last month, a decline of 65% from a year ago, the Treasury Department said on April 12.

It was the 18th consecutive month of federal red ink. The reading was worse than analysts' average expectation of a $62 billion deficit.

Federal revenue rose for the second month in a row, to $153.36 billion. February's gain had been the first increase since April 2008.

The government spent $218.74 billion in March. The spending side of the ledger benefited from a downwardly revised estimate of the cost of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) launched to shore up the financial system amid the global financial crisis.

The new estimate, issued by the government in January, shaves $115 billion from the TARP cost.

The monthly Treasury budget data often are volatile, making a longer-term look a more reliable indicator of the state of government finances.

Since the start of the 2010 fiscal year on October 1, 2009, the budget deficit totaled $716.99 billion at the end of March, 8% less than the same six-month period a year earlier.

The deficit decline is better than the government's pessimistic forecast in February that the deficit would increase 10% on an annual basis in the first half of the fiscal year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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