BRUSSELS, Feb 3 The euro zone's government
deficit shrank for the third consecutive quarter in the three
months to last September to near the European Union's official
limit of 3 percent of economic output, Eurostat data showed on
The seasonally adjusted government gap fell to 3.1 percent
of gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of last
year from 3.3 percent in the previous period and down from 3.4
percent in the first quarter of 2013.
The 3.1 percent shortfall is the smallest since the third
quarter of 2008, when it stood at -2.2 percent of the bloc's
economic output, according to Eurostat.
The narrowing of the deficit comes from total revenue rising
to 47.1 percent of the GDP from 46.9 percent in April-June, with
total expenditure flat at 50.2 percent.
The euro zone, which expanded to 18 countries when Latvia
adopted the euro in January, is gradually recovering from its
worst recession since creation of the euro in 1999, caused by a
sovereign debt crisis that followed years of overspending.
The sharp reduction in government deficits is part of a plan
to restore long-term sustainability of public finances and win
back market confidence in euro zone government bonds.
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(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Martin Santa)