Agency employment remained stagnant in March, rising slightly to 181,500 nationwide, after a 181,300 total in February. But with most agency companies reporting little evidence of a strong upturn and Interpublic Group of Cos. planning additional layoffs in the second quarter, headcounts will remain depressed in coming months.
Deflation flattens markets: The specter of deflation almost spooked markets out of a fifth-straight weekly gain. Drops in housing starts and consumer prices raised fears that deflation will hurt corporate earnings and pre-empt a recovery. Thirty AdMarket stocks were up, 19 were down and Gannett Co. was unchanged.
Ad agency stocks continued to perform well, as investors anticipated a recovery, but marketers slid as the investors sold off tech and manufacturing stocks due to the deflation fears. The French agencies reacted well to reports of improvement in U.S. advertising market (See story, this page). But Cordiant Communications Group continued to lose ground, after reports that it has failed to find a buyer who will acquire the troubled company whole.