The US services sector picked up pace in August, with businesses reporting improving orders and increased hiring, the Institute for Supply Management said Thursday. The ISM\'s purchasing managers index for the non-manufacturing sector rose to 58.6, compared with 56.0 in July and 55.2 at the beginning of the year. The business activity sub-index increased to 62.2 from 60.4, new orders accelerated to 60.5 from 57.7, and the employment sub-index rose to 57.0 from 53.2, all signs of slight acceleration in the services sector. Prices also continued to rise, but at a slower pace; the prices index for August stood at 53.4, down from 60.1 the month earlier. A figure above 50 indicates growth. Of all the industries covered by the services PMI, only mining and arts, entertainment and recreation reported contraction. \"The majority of respondents\' comments continue to be mostly positive about business conditions and the direction of the overall economy,\" the ISM said.