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Budget deficit shrinks to $27B

Canada's budget deficit narrowed to $27.37 billion in the first nine months of the 2010-11 fiscal year from $39.36 billion a year earlier, the Department of Finance said on Friday.

The April-December shortfall puts Ottawa on good footing to meet or possibly improve on its own estimate of a $45.4-billion deficit by the end of the fiscal year on March 31, down from a record $55.6 billion in 2009-10.

Revenues in the nine-month period jumped 7.7 percent, thanks primarily to bigger intake on corporate, personal and sales taxes as well as gains realized on the government's sale of shares in General Motors.

Program expenses in that time slipped 0.6 percent, largely due to the effect of the one-time bailout of the auto sector in 2009. That was partially offset by increased transfer payments to provincial governments in 2010.

Public debt charges rose 4.4 percent, or $1 billion, year-over-year.

In the month of December, the deficit shrank to $1.35 billion from a $3.06 billion gap a year earlier as revenues jumped 8.4 percent and spending fell 2.5 percent. CTV Two CTV News CTV News Channel BNN - Business News Network CP24