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Euro zone deficit drops to lowest level in Q3 2017

BRUSSELS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The public sector deficit in the euro zone dropped to the lowest level since euro bank notes and coins were introduced in 2002 in the third quarter of last year, principally due to a sharp rise in Germany's surplus.

The seasonally adjusted deficit of the 19-nation bloc declined to 0.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), from 1.0 percent in second quarter, the EU's statistics agency Eurostat said on Wednesday.

Many countries saw improved budgetary figures, although the largest impact came from Germany, where the surplus rose to 2.5 percent from 0.6 percent.

The euro zone deficit touched 0.4 percent in the second and third quarters of 2007. Eurostat's data goes back to 2002 and covers the 19 current euro zone members although the single currency bloc only had 12 members when notes and coins were first used in January 2002.

Government debt fell to 88.1 percent in the third quarter of last year. That was the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012.

The debt to GDP was higher than the euro zone average in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain and France. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)