The Conference Board's Help Wanted Index-a strong indicator of the health of the job market and the newspaper industry-rose to 39 in November after holding steady for three months at 37. The index of help-wanted volume nationwide appears to be recovering, after two years of steady drops, a sign that the labor market is perking up and a good sign for newspapers, which earn significant ad revenue from employment advertising.
Stocks stagnant: The president's State of the Union speech did little to perk up financial markets as Wall Street awaits the start of earnings reporting season. Strong earnings from Johnson & Johnson and an upbeat outlook from Microsoft Corp. helped, but investors chose to cash in gains before the year-end reports roll in. For the week, 24 AdMarket stocks were up, 25 were down and Univision Communications was unchanged.
Agency and media stocks were mixed, with Havas hurt by rumors of accounting irregularities after the announcement of a management change. Liberty Media's acquisition of a 9.2% voting stake in News Corp. gave that stock a boost, and Clear Channel Communications and Viacom recovered from the previous week's losses.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Jan. 23, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Jan. 16. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.