The Ad Market

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The Conference Board's Help Wanted Index-a strong indicator of the health of the job market and the newspaper industry-held steady in September at 37. The index of help-wanted volume nationwide has now stayed relatively steady since March, after two years of drops. Economists say the numbers are a good sign that unemployment is stabilizing. It is also a good omen for newspapers, which earn significant ad revenue from employment advertising.

AdMarket 50

Weak retail marks down stocks: Investors were spooked at reports of weaker October retail sales and a disappointing third-quarter report from retail Goliath Wal-Mart Stores. Fearing that weaker consumer spending could spell a slowdown, Wall Street retreated late in the week to end flat. AdMarket stocks were split in half for the week-25 up, 25 down.

Agency stocks were down except for Grey Global Group, which posted a strong third-quarter report, and Havas, which was bid up by speculators in spite of a lackluster report. Publicis Groupe dropped slightly after posting a modest improvement, while investors punished Interpublic Group of Cos. for another weak quarter. (See story, top right)

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Nov. 14, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Nov 7. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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