WASHINGTON — Construction spending unexpectedly increased 0.2% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $847 billion, as public construction increased by the largest amount in 13 months, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

The March increase in construction spending broke a string of four monthly declines.

Private construction fell 0.9% to $550.8 billion, the lowest level since January 1999.

Economists had expected construction spending would fall 0.3%.

February’s construction spending was revised to a drop of 2.1% from a 1.3% decline initially reported.

Public construction increased 2.3% in March to $296.5 billion.

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