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TURN SIGNALS

New business activity continued to move at a good pace in January, thanks to new product introductions and a wave of mergers and acquisitions that is expected to affect account moves for months to come. Forty-four accounts changed hands, up 26% from a year ago. Meanwhile, Interpublic Group of Cos. had encouraging results; it showed net wins for two months in a row for the first time since November 2003.

ADMARKET 50

Reversal of fortunes: The week started badly after the President's Day holiday, with higher oil prices and a weak dollar taking markets down hard. But stocks recovered on Feb. 25, after oil prices slipped and the fourth-quarter gross domestic product figures came up higher than expected. For the week, 26 AdMarket stocks were up, 24 were down.

Agency stocks were in a rare position-at the top of the AdMarket-thanks to strong results reported by Omnicom Group and WPP Group. (See The Week, P. 22, Late news, P. 1). Grey Global Group also gained, as investors anticipated the March 7 closing of its deal with WPP. Media stocks fared poorly, especially those with radio assets, after Viacom posted a large loss due to its radio holdings. Investors sold off Yahoo after a brokerage downgrade, Clear Channel dropped after posting a $4.7 billion fourth-quarter loss and Univision dropped ahead of its earnings report Feb. 28.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Feb. 25 based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Feb. 18. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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