December US budget deficit shrinks to $23.2 billion

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, an icy fog cloaking the Capitol begins to give way to the morning sun in Washington. On Thursday, Ja

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, an icy fog cloaking the Capitol begins to give way to the morning sun in Washington. On Thursday, Ja

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government recorded a budget deficit of $23.2 billion in December, smaller than a year ago. But for the first three months of this budget year, the deficit is 7.2 percent larger than the same period last year.

The Treasury Department says the December deficit was 15.2 percent lower than the $27.3 billion imbalance in December 2016. For the first three months of this budget year, the deficit totals $225 billion, up from a deficit of $209.8 billion for the same period a year ago.

Private forecasters expect this year's deficit to be well above last year's deficit of $665.8 billion, reflecting increased spending in such areas as defense and hurricane relief and reduced revenues as last month's major tax cut package takes effect.