Vote of no confidence: Consumers don't appear convinced the recovery has legs. The consumer confidence index dropped again in August, falling to its lowest level since last November, and consumers remain pessimistic about the near future. Conference Board researchers warn this attitude signals slow economic growth ahead since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
The recovery lurches on: The stock markets broke their five-week rally after a series of favorable indicators only partly balanced less-than-stellar corporate forecasts. Higher consumer spending and manufacturer order data for July encouraged investors late in the week. But downbeat outlooks from Sun Microsystems and BellSouth Corp. capped a week of diminished expectations in technology and telecom, and retailers were weighed down by weak August sales. Only 12 AdMarket stocks were up and 38 were down. Agency stocks held up better than other groups, with Havas, WPP Group and Grey Global Group showing gains while Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group showed slight drops for the week. Philip Morris Cos. benefited from announcements of management changes and an increased dividend while Yahoo!, Sprint Corp. and Intel Corp. took a hit from weakness in tech and telecom.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of top publicly traded marketers, agency and media companies for the week ended Aug. 30 based on stock-trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Aug. 23.