A private survey says growth picked up last month at U.S. services companies.

The Institute for Supply Management's services index rebounded to 54.5 in March from a two-year low 53.4 in February. Anything above 50 signals growth.

Business activity and new orders grew faster. A measure of employment in services registered 50.3 after contracting in February.

Services have been a source of strength for the U.S. economy at a time when manufacturing has been hurt by weak demand for U.S. goods overseas and a strong dollar that makes U.S. products more expensive. Consumer spending on services grew twice as fast as the overall economy from October through December. Hiring by services firms account for 90 percent of the 2.8 million jobs U.S. employers have added over the past year.