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

Overall, the service sector revenues index improved to negative 6 in August, from negative 11 in July, while the number of employees index reversed to positive 4 from negative 3, the average wage index rose to 10 8 from 8, and the expected product demand during the next six months index grew to 7 from 4.

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 surged to positive 3 in August from negative 18 in July, the number of employees index gained to zero from negative 15, while the average wages index remained at 4. The inventories index reversed to positive 5 from negative 6, while the big-ticket sales index fell to negative 16 from positive 21. The shopper traffic index climbed to negative 1 from negative 6, while expected product demand during the next six months rose to positive 1 from negative 36.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was negative 6 compared to negative 11 last month, while the number of employees index increased to positive 5 from negative 2, and the average wage index held at 11. The expected product demand during the next six months index jumped to 8 from 4.

The current price trend for the two sectors together fell to 1.15 from 1.30, while rising to 1.70 from 1.46 for retail alone and dropping to 1.02 from 1.23 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together slid to 1.54 in August from 1.71 in July, while decreasing to 1.18 from 1.61 for retail alone and slowing to 1.66 from 1.72 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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