US Jan budget surplus narrows as spending hits record

by David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – The U.S. government posted a $17.84 billion budget surplus for January, less than half the year-earlier surplus, as spending hit a record for the month while receipts fell from a year ago, the U.S. Treasury said on Tuesday.

The January surplus narrowed compared to a year-earlier surplus of $38.24 billion and also missed the $23.5 billion surplus forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

A Treasury spokeswoman said January is more often a deficit-producing month, with January deficits in 34 of the past 53 years.

Federal outlays last month grew to $237.38 billion — a record for the month of January — from $222.37 billion in January 2007.

Might be back on the 7% growth trend as 2007 spending my have been delayed and moved forward to 2008.

But after years of consistently strong year-on-year growth, government tax receipts dipped to $255.22 billion in January from $260.61 billion from the same month a year earlier.

Could be a sign of economic weakness.

I don’t have the details yet – there can be a lot more to these numbers than the headlines indicate.

Economic data has shown a substantial slowing of the U.S. economy in recent weeks, including a decline of 17,000 non-farm jobs in January. The White House has forecast that the full-year budget deficit will more than double to $410 billion this year due to the revenue slowdown and a $152 billion in fiscal stimulus spending package.

Now a $169 billion package.

The deficit for the first four months of fiscal 2008, which began Oct. 1, widened to $87.70 billion, from a $42.17 billion budget gap for the same period a year earlier. (Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Gary Crosse)

Government spending and exports now supporting GDP and offsetting some of the consumer weakness.


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