The Conference Board's Help Wanted Index-an indicator of the health of the economy and the newspaper industry-rose in February back to its September 2001 level. While the increase hints at a coming recovery, the index is still far below its year-ago number. That's not good news for a newspaper recovery.
Not enough good news: The economy grew 5.8% in the first quarter. "Whatever," said investors. Gross domestic product growth didn't make up for a hike in March unemployment to 5.7%, which analysts said could hit 6% by summer. The major stock markets had their worst post-Sept. losses after yet more earnings warnings from the likes of General Mills. Only five AdMarket stocks were up; 45 were down.
Media companies reported more weak earnings due to the lingering ad slowdown (see story to right). Most tried to put on a good spin by saying things are getting better, but investors weren't buying the story. The bottom of the AdMarket was full of media and agency companies, although investors drove up Cordiant Communications Group after it finally posted 2001 results (see story, P. 6).
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketers, agency and media companies for the week ended April 26 based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are based on closing prices April 19.