The federal government says it posted a small budgetary surplus of $158 million in June, a far stronger fiscal result than last June's $1 billion deficit.
But the Finance Department took care to caution Canadians that the rare black ink does not signal a major turning point in the government's struggle to eliminate the deficit.
It says part of the unexpected strong number stems from monthly timing factors that ballooned the reported deficit in May to $2.4 billion, but made June's bottom line look far stronger.
Revenues increased by a whopping $2.1 billion — or 10.1 per cent — from last year, again reflecting both timing and economic growth.
The government last posted a surplus in February, a month when tax receipts are traditionally robust.
For the first three months of the fiscal year combined, Ottawa's overall annual deficit stood at $2.6 billion, only a modestly better than $2.8 billion shortfall it had at this point last year.
In the March budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty estimated the year's deficit will fall to $18.7 billion from the $25.9 billion shortfall recorded last year.