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

Overall, the service sector revenues index slipped to 9 in October, from 15 in September, while the number of employees index increased to 9 from 7, the average wage index dropped to 12 from 19, and the expected product demand during the next six months index slumped to 4 from 16.

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 fell to negative 5 from positive 8 in September, the number of employees index dipped to 4 from 5, while the average wages index slipped to 11 from 15. The inventories index remained at zero, while the big-ticket sales index sank to negative 21 from positive 12. The shopper traffic index surged to positive 13 from negative 11, while expected product demand during the next six months reversed to negative 5 from positive 3.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 10 compared with 16 last month, while the number of employees index rose to 9 from 6, and the average wage index slid to 11 from 17. The expected product demand during the next six months index decreased to 4 from 17.

The current price trend for the two sectors together grew to 1.47 from 1.45, while falling to 1.28 from 1.76 for retail alone and jumping to 1.53 from 1.37 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together rose to 1.74 in October from 1.69 in September, while decreasing to 1.73 from 2.23 for retail alone and climbing to 1.75 from 1.62 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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