WASHINGTON — The federal government posted a $203.5 billion budget deficit in February after running a $2.9 billion surplus in January, the Treasury reported Wednesday.

The budget deficit was smaller than the median $205 billion shortage projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters but was roughly $28 billion or 12% lower than the $231.7 billion deficit posted for February 2012.

Outlays in February totaled $326.4 billion, compared to $269.3 billion in January, and were down about $9 billion or 3% from $335.1 billion in February 2012 (on a rounded basis).

Receipts totaled $122.8 billion, compared to $272.2 billion in January, and were up roughly $19 billion or 19% from $103.4 billion a year ago.

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