WASHINGTON The federal government posted its narrowest December budget deficit in five years as revenues rose in part due to worries about possible changes in the tax code, the U.S. Treasury said on Friday.
The budget registered a marginal $260 million deficit as receipts and outlays largely canceled each other out - a balance that is not expected to persist.
That was the narrowest since a surplus in December 2007, and compared with a November deficit of $172.1 billion. The figure surprised Wall Street economists who had been expecting a $22.50 billion gap.
The total deficit for fiscal 2012 was $1.089 trillion.
The U.S. Treasury last month announced the first in a series of measures that analysts say pushed back the date when it will hit the debt ceiling from December 31 to sometime between mid-February and early March.
The government is facing a crunch on the debt ceiling because the issue has become ensnarled in talks to avoid some $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts which had been due to begin in early January. Failing to raise the debt ceiling could cause the government to default on its debt.
(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, editing by Gary Crosse)