Brazil’s public sector posted a rare primary budget surplus in January, leading to a slight decline in the country’s stubborn 12-month deficit, the Central Bank said Friday. January produced a primary surplus of R$27.9 billion, the first monthly surplus since April of last year. The surplus helped bring the 12-month budget deficit down to R$104.4 billion, or 1.75% of gross domestic product, as of January from R$111.2 billion, or 1.88% of GDP, as of December. However, Brazil’s government was still a long way from its calendar 2016 goal of a primary budget surplus equal to 0.5% of GDP. Fiscal performance improved in January for a number of reasons. One was payment of R$11 billion by investors for electric utility concessions won at auction in December. Another was a seasonal rise in tax revenues. A third reason was a broad government spending freeze.
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