UPDATE 3-Brazil's narrower budget surplus raises doubts about 2014 goal
By Luciana Otoni
BRASILIA Feb 28 (Reuters) - Brazil's consolidated primary budget surplus narrowed in January from a year ago, marking a weak start for the government's effort to boost savings and regain credibility with investors this year.
The primary budget surplus, which represents the public sector's net revenues over expenditures before debt payments, totaled 19.921 billion reais ($8.53 billion) in January, down from a surplus of 30.251 billion reais in the same month last year.
The markets had expected a surplus of 21.2 billion reais in January.
The Brazilian government's budget is undergoing close scrutiny from investors after President Dilma Rousseff promised to rein in public spending to avoid a downgrade by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's.
Earlier on Friday, the central government posted a primary budget surplus of 12.954 billion reais ($5.55 billion) in January, narrower than the December surplus of 14.5 billion reais. The central government result includes federal ministries, the central bank and the social security system.
"The government got off on the wrong foot with this result," said Flavio Serrano, senior economist with Espirito Santo Investment Bank in Sao Paulo. "It was a disappointing result that harms government efforts to regain the trust of investors."
The weak fiscal result indicates that the government likely withheld payments and transfers to municipalities to bolster its performance in December, Serrano said. Continuación...