WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal deficit for the first three months of the budget year is up slightly from the same period a year ago, reflecting the absence of a special payment from mortgage company Freddie Mac that helped narrow the gap in 2014.

WASHINGTON (AP) The federal deficit for the first three months of the budget year is up slightly from the same period a year ago, reflecting the absence of a special payment from mortgage company Freddie Mac that helped narrow the gap in 2014.

The Treasury Department says the government ran a deficit of $176.7 billion for the first three months of the current budget year, which began Oct. 1. That is up 2.4 percent from a $172.6 billion imbalance for the same three months in the 2014 budget year.

However, last year's books were helped by a special $24 billion payment Freddie Mac provided the government for support it received during the financial crisis. Budget experts still believe this year's deficit will still be lower than last year.