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US budget deficit hits $193.5B

WASHINGTON (AP)  The U.S. government is running a deficit that is 23.6 percent lower than in the same period a year ago through the first five months of this budget year, another sign of improvement in the nation's finances.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit for February totaled $193.5 billion, the largest monthly imbalance in a year. The government traditionally runs large deficits in February, a month when it is sending out tax refund payments.

For the period from October through February, the deficit totals $377.4 billion, down from $493.95 billion a year ago. 

Last week, President Barack Obama sent Congress a new budget which projects the deficit will fall to $649 billion this year, down from a $680 billion deficit last year.

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting an even lower deficit this year of $514 billion. Both the administration and the CBO expect the deficit to improve as an improving economy boosts tax revenues and lowers spending on such government support programs as unemployment benefits.

The deficit is also being trimmed by tighter spending restraints imposed in response to four straight years in which the deficit soared above $1 trillion annually.

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