apan's household spending surged in March, while the unemployment rate eased, the Finance Ministry reported Tuesday, with both results surpassing economists' expectations. Spending by households of two or more people rose 5.2% from a year earlier, as housing expeditures jumped by more than 23%. The gain -- marking the third straight month of increase -- was well above a median estimate for a 1.8% gain, according to separate Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters surveys. The labor market also firmed, with the jobless rate for March falling to 4.1% from 4.3% in both January and February. The Dow Jones Newswires survey had projected unemployment at 4.2%, while the Reuters poll had estimated 4.3%. The relatively upbeat data sent the yen higher, with the dollar falling from ¥97.93 just ahead of the numbers to ¥97.88 in the minutes following the release. March data on industrial output and retail sales were due later in the morning.