Lisbon - Portugal's statistics agency says the country's budget deficit fell to 4.9 percent of GDP last year - significantly lower than the 5.5 percent target set by its bailout creditors.

The fall was encouraging news for the eurozone's continuing efforts to move on from a debt crisis that rattled its 18 member countries.

Portugal's deficit ballooned to 10.1 percent by 2010, and it became one of four eurozone countries that needed a bailout, receiving 78 billion euros ($107.6 billion) in 2011.

In return, the bailout lenders demanded that Lisbon enact austerity measures such as pay cuts and tax hikes to reduce its debts.

Those measures have shown results, with the National Statistics Institute revealing Monday the third straight annual deficit reduction.

Portugal's bailout program ends in mid-May. - Sapa-AP