Service sector activity "picked up moderately," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index improved to positive 11 in September, from negative 6 in August, while the number of employees index reversed to negative 2 from positive 4, the average wage index slid to 8 from 10, and the expected product demand during the next six months index grew to 9 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 held at 3 in September, the number of employees index slumped to negative 33 from zero, while the average wages index dropped to negative 24 from positive 4. The inventories index increased to 23 from 5, while the big-ticket sales index narrowed to negative 3 from negative 16. The shopper traffic index climbed to positive 1 from negative 1, while expected product demand during the next six months rose to 5 from 1.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was positive 12 compared to negative 6 last month, while the number of employees index dipped to 2 from 5, and the average wage index rose to 12 from 11. The expected product demand during the next six months index slipped to 7 from 8.

The current price trend for the two sectors together fell to 1.08 from 1.15, while declining to 1.29 from 1.70 for retail alone and dropping to 0.99 from 1.02 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together slid to 1.50 in September from 1.54 in August, while increasing to 1.26 from 1.18 for retail alone and slowing to 1.52 from 1.66 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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