BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The euro zone's government deficit shrank for the third consecutive quarter in the three months to last September to near the European Union's official limit of 3 percent of economic output, Eurostat data showed on Monday.
The seasonally adjusted government gap fell to 3.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of last year from 3.3 percent in the previous period and down from 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
The 3.1 percent shortfall is the smallest since the third quarter of 2008, when it stood at -2.2 percent of the bloc's economic output, according to Eurostat.
The narrowing of the deficit comes from total revenue rising to 47.1 percent of the GDP from 46.9 percent in April-June, with total expenditure flat at 50.2 percent.
The euro zone, which expanded to 18 countries when Latvia adopted the euro in January, is gradually recovering from its worst recession since creation of the euro in 1999, caused by a sovereign debt crisis that followed years of overspending.
The sharp reduction in government deficits is part of a plan to restore long-term sustainability of public finances and win back market confidence in euro zone government bonds.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Martin Santa)