Service sector activity "slowed in December," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Wednesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index dropped to negative 2 in December, from positive 7 in November, while the number of employees index declined to negative 12 from negative 6, the average wage index dipped to 5 from 9, and the expected product demand during the next six months index fell to zero from 7.

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 reversed to negative 13 from positive 14 in November, the number of employees index slipped to negative 21 from negative 13, while the average wages index slumped to negative 4 from positive 8. The inventories index increased to positive 6 from negative 1, while the big-ticket sales index widened to negative 31 from negative 14. The shopper traffic index plunged to negative 18 from positive 23, while expected product demand during the next six months fell to negative 24 from negative 3.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 1 compared to 4 last month, while the number of employees index dropped to negative 8 from negative 6, and the average wage index held at 7. The expected product demand during the next six months index slid to 8 from 9.

The current price trend for the two sectors together dipped to 1.13 from 1.16, while slowing to 1.41 from 1.84 for retail alone and slipping to 0.99 from 1.01 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together rose to 1.73 in December from 1.68 in November, while decreasing to 2.20 from 2.43 for retail alone and jumping to 1.67 from 1.53 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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