Guterres, who served as UN refugee chief for 10 years, received 12 votes of encouragement, two “discourage” votes and one “no opinion” during the 15-member council’s informal vote.
It was the fourth time the 67-year-old has taken the number-one spot in the contest to succeed Ban Ki-moon, who steps down on December 31 after 10 years as the world’s top diplomat.
During the last round of straw polls, Guterres had picked up 11 encouragements, three “discourage” votes and one “no opinion.”
The 15 ambassadors, including those from the powerful five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — met behind closed doors to rate the candidates with ballots marked “encourage,” “discourage” or “no opinion.”
Ten candidates are in the running for the top post, half of them women.