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NY Fed: Winter storms dampen sales for service firms

Service businesses in the metropolitan region and upstate

Service businesses in the metropolitan region and upstate New York are reporting February sales declines, which likely are due in part to severe winter weather. Above, workers shovel snow outside the Holiday Inn hotel on West 57th Street in Manhattan on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Credit: EPA / Peter Foley

Executives of service businesses in the metropolitan region and upstate New York are reporting sales declines this month compared with January because of a series of winter storms, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its business activity index fell 17 points in February to a negative 10.5 from January’s 6 points.

It was the index's first negative reading since March and the lowest since November 2012, the bank said.

The index measures current sales. A negative reading means the number of service companies saying their sales had decreased in the past month was higher than those who said sales increased.

The index had been positive since April.

Another index of business climate, which gages current attitudes about the economy, was negative 29 points. That means the number of executives saying the economy was worse than usual was greater than those who thought it was doing better.

“These rather negative readings may in part reflect the severe winter weather in the region that has affected many local businesses in recent weeks,” the bank said in a statement.

The survey of about 100 service companies, such as retailers and technology firms, was conducted earlier this month in the state, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut. Long Island businesses took part.

The survey is one of two that the New York Fed has been conducting for years but just began releasing publicly in January.

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