New business remains weak, with activity in February 14% below the equally anemic numbers of a year ago. It's not as bad as the 47% year-over-year decline seen in January, but new business remains depressed. Only $91 million of the $1.12 billion in accounts awarded in February was "new" new business; the rest came from clients changing shops. The biggest move was Coca-Cola Co's $275 million Coke Classic account, from Interpublic Group of Cos. to WPP Group.
War rally fizzles: The first-week euphoria ground to a halt in the stock markets as U.S. and British troops dug in before Iraqi resistance. Investors retreated in the face of stagnant February consumer spending numbers and a grim consumer confidence report where numbers hit the lowest levels in ten years. Five AdMarket stocks rose during the week and 45 were down.
Sears Roebuck & Co. and McDonald's Corp. rose after Sears announced it will sell its credit card unit and following reports that McDonald's will sell its casual dining chains. Media and agency companies took a hit, as investors worried about the costs of covering a protracted war and lost ad revenue. Several analysts downgraded their estimates for radio stations, which hurt owners of large radio networks such as Viacom and Clear Channel Communications. American Express also took a hit, based on fears of a war-related travel slowdown.