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Portugal sticks to 0.1% deficit forecast after nine-month surplus

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s budget surplus widened to 1% of gross domestic product in the first nine months of 2019 from 0.4% a year earlier, the National Statistics Institute said on Monday, but the government said it still expected a small full-year deficit.

Speaking to reporters, Finance Minister Mario Centeno said the nine-month surplus reflected solid revenue growth in an expanding economy. But he cautioned that “the budget execution throughout the year is not linear”, with various payments concentrated in the last quarter.

“We reiterate the projection we’ve made,” he said, referring to a 0.1% deficit estimated by the government earlier.

Last year, the deficit for the whole year was 0.4% – the lowest in more than four decades and a sharp improvement in the country’s financial position from its 2011-14 debt crisis.

Next year, the Socialist government expects to post Portugal’s first full-year budget surplus since democracy returned in 1974, of 0.2%, with economic growth remaining steady at 1.9%.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by Larry King)

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