The Conference Board's Help Wanted Index-a strong indicator of the health of the job market and the newspaper industry-dipped one point to 36 in September. The index has been hovering in the mid- to upper-30's range since it bottomed out in early 2003, a sign of the continuing malaise in the U.S. labor market. Conference Board economists noted that the group's Leading Economic Index has declined for four straight months, which could mean the labor market is losing steam nationwide. That would be bad news for newspapers, whose tenuous advertising recovery could use an improvement in classified ad revenue.
Post-election surge: With the election uncertainty resolved, investors were off to the races and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its biggest one-day point gain this year. A drop in oil prices, a strong jobs report and a surge in Sears, Roebuck & Co. stock-due to an investment by the Vornado real estate investment trust-helped things. Only four AdMarket stocks were down and 46 were up.
News Corp. stock climbed after it reported net income rose 25% in the last quarter, and Catalina Marketing Corp. jumped after its quarter beat analysts' estimates by a wide margin. Meanwhile, Univision Communications dropped after it lowered its outlook for the year. Among agencies, Publicis Groupe was up 2.47%, Havas rose 1.71% and Interpublic Group of Cos. rose 1.63% after reporting improved results.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Nov. 5, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Oct. 29. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.