“Service-sector activity contracted in April,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey released yesterday.

“Revenues continued to fall, although the further slide in revenues at services-providing firms was partially offset by a less pronounced decline in retail sales,” the survey said. “Big-ticket sales dropped sharply, however. In addition, shopper traffic diminished. Retailers’ inventories dropped in line with previous monthly reductions since the start of this year. Looking ahead six months, survey respondents’ outlook for expected demand for their goods and services was guarded.”

Overall, the service sector revenues index slid to negative 29 in April from negative 28 in March, the number of employees index narrowed to negative 26 from negative 31, the average wage index held at negative 6, and the expected product demand during the next six months index rose to negative 3 from negative 5.

By sector, the retail area excluding services reported the sales revenue index increased to negative 11 in April from negative 26 in March, the number of employees index slipped to negative 25 from negative 24, and the average wages index slumped to negative 11 from negative 6. The inventories index widened to negative 28 from negative 26, the big-ticket sales index dropped to negative 60 from negative 50, and expected product demand during the next six months fell to negative 1 from positive 11.

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