Summary Box: US service firms grow, boost hiring
SERVICE FIRMS EXPAND: Rising consumer spending is boosting retailers, restaurants and other service companies. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of non-manufacturing activity dropped to 56. That's down from February's 57.3, which was a 12-month high. But any reading above 50 indicates expansion and 56 is a healthy level.
HIRING ROSE: A measure of employment rose to nearly a six-year high, as more companies said they are adding workers.
ECONOMY GROWING: The survey covers roughly 90 percent of U.S. workers in all industries outside manufacturing. The level of the index points to steady economic growth.
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