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Portugal posts first-quarter public surplus, 12-month gap near zero

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LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s finances swung to a budget surplus of 0.4% of gross domestic product in the first quarter from a deficit a year earlier, making the gap in the 12 months to end-March shrink to nearly zero, the National Statistics Institute said on Monday.

The quarterly number, which confirms a public sector surplus announced by the finance ministry earlier, compares to a deficit of 1% in the same period a year earlier.

Revenues rose 6.2% in the first quarter, at double the pace of spending growth, while in the 12 months revenues rose 1.3% percent and spending 0.6%, making the budget gap narrow to just 0.1%.

The government still expects a small deficit of 0.2% for the whole of this year and expects to reach a surplus of 0.3% in 2020.

Portugal posted an annual budget deficit of 0.5 percent of GDP last year, the lowest in more than four decades, marking a sharp improvement in the country’s financial position from its 2011-14 debt crisis.

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip, editing by Axel Bugge)

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