WASHINGTON - Construction spending climbed 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted estimated annual rate of $820.7 billion in April, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The April rate rose from the revised March estimate of $818.1 billion, originally reported as $08.1 billion. The April figure was 6.8% above the April 2011 reading of $768.2 billion, and was the largest since it was $824.8 billion in December 2011.

The April spending growth fell shy of the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who had predicted a median 0.4% increase in the rate from March to April.

Total construction spending through the first four months of 2012 was $238.5 billion, the Commerce Department said, 7.3% above the $222.2 billion spent through the first four months of 2011.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted estimated rate of $549.7 billion in April, a 1.2% gain from the March estimate of $543.4 billion and the largest figure since a $561.5 billion mark in October 2009.

Residential construction was at $256.1 billion in April, 2.8% above the $249.1 billion for March. Nonresidential construction was at a $293.6 billion, 0.2% above March’s $294.3 billion.

Public construction spending was $271.0 billion, 1.4% below the March reading of $274.7 billion and the lowest figure since it was $270.2 billion in December 2006. Federal construction spending fell 5.0% to an annual rate of $26.4 billion, while state and local spending slid 1.0% to a $244.6 billion rate.

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