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Richmond Fed: Service Sector Improves

Service sector activity "improved" in January, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index soared to positive 13 in January, from negative 2 in December, while the number of employees index increased to zero from negative 12, the average wage index climbed to 7 from 5, and the expected product demand during the next six months index rose to 10 from zero.

The indexes are the percentage of responding firms reporting increase, less the percentage reporting a decrease.

By sector, the retail area excluding services firms reported the sales revenues index narrowed to negative 8 from negative 13 in December, the number of employees index climbed to negative 13 from negative 21, while the average wages index jumped to negative 1 from negative 4. The inventories index increased to 16 from 6, while the big-ticket sales index widened to negative 32 from negative 31. The shopper traffic index reversed to positive 4 from negative 18, while expected product demand during the next six months rose to negative 6 from negative 24.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 20 compared to 1 last month, while the number of employees index grew to positive 4 from negative 8, and the average wage index inched up to 8 from 7. The expected product demand during the next six months index rose to 13 from 8.

The current price trend for the two sectors together gained to 1.40 from 1.13, while growing to 1.69 from 1.41 for retail alone and climbing to 1.29 from 0.99 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together rose to 1.75 in January from 1.73 in December, while decreasing to 1.56 from 2.20 for retail alone and jumping to 1.76 from 1.67 for services, excluding retail.

All firms surveyed are located within the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

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