U.S. Monthly Budget Deficit Hits $188B in March

The United States posted a monthly budget deficit of $188 billion in March as the government spent more than twice what it took in last month, the Treasury Department reported on Tuesday.

The Treasury said the cumulative deficit through the first half of fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1, was a record $829 billion, about 16 percent higher than the prior year's $717 billion first half shortfall.

The monthly budget deficit was the second largest shortfall recorded in any March, outsized only by the $192 billion gap posted in March 2009.

The monthly shortfall was just shy of the $189 billion forecast of economists polled by Reuters.

(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Neil Stempleman)((corbett.daly@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202-898-8395; Reuters Messaging: Corbett.Daly.Thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))