(Recasts to add background, forecast for overall budget data)
By Luciana Otoni
BRASILIA, March 27 Brazil's central government
budget slipped into deficit in February, underscoring President
Dilma Rousseff's struggle to shore up public finances and regain
credibility with investors.
Brazil's central government, which includes results from
federal ministries, the central bank and social security, posted
a primary budget deficit of 3.078 billion reais ($1.356 billion)
in February, the Treasury said on Thursday.
February's gap comes after a lower-than-expected surplus of
12.954 billion reais in January.
Brazil's public finances have deteriorated over the past few
years, leading Standard & Poor's to downgrade the country's debt
rating closer to junk status on Monday.
Brazil's government pledged to save 99 billion reais this
year in primary surplus, or 1.9 percent of the country's GDP.
But economists in a Reuters poll last month said that target is
probably out of reach.
The central bank on Friday is scheduled to release the
country's consolidated fiscal results, which adds
states and municipalities and is regarded as the benchmark for
Brazil's fiscal performance.
The median expectation of 16 economists in a Reuters poll
carried out earlier in the week is for a deficit of 500 million
reais in Brazil's consolidated budget.
($1 = 2.2700 Brazilian reais)
(Reporting by Luciana Otoni; Writing by Silvio Cascione;
Editing by James Dalgleish and Stephen Powell)