Ottawa posts massive $5.1B surplus in February as revenues soar, costs flatline

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OTTAWA - The federal government says it has posted another massive monthly budget surplus — the biggest since the recession — putting it in position to easily beat its target deficit for the year.

The Finance Department says it took in $5.1 billion more in February than it spent, the third large monthly surplus in a row.

For the first 11 months of the 2013-14 financial year, the government's treasury remains in a hole, but that has shrunk to about $5.4 billion, about half the $10.7-billion deficit it faced at this time last year.

Analysts caution that Ottawa's monthly accounts can be lumpy, so the final month of the fiscal year may flip the numbers around.

But as of the February numbers issued on Friday, Ottawa seems to be well poised to easily improve on the $16.6 billion deficit it had anticipated in the March budget.

February's strong month was mostly due to a $2.1 billion increase in revenues, or about 8.4 per cent over February 2013. Meanwhile expenses increased by only about $100 million, or 0.5 per cent.

For the year to date, Ottawa says its revenues are up $10.8 billion, or 4.7 per cent, and its expenses increased by $5.7 billion, or 2.6 per cent.

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