The APril 2 job report was strong, but consumers are still worried about the pokey job market. After dropping in February, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index was virtually flat in March, and consumers appear to be growing pessimistic about the outlook for the next six months. More troubling: consumers' hunger for big-ticket items-particularly cars-is either flat or sliding.
Job jump, stock surge: The markets finally shook off the doldrums of the past six weeks amid reports of solid corporate earnings and rising retail sales. An unexpectedly strong March employment report helped seal the gains. Just two AdMarket stocks were down for the week and 48 were up.
Advertising stocks got a boost from a late-week report from Fitch Ratings, which predicted industry growth and strong 2004 prospects for Interpublic Group of Cos., Omnicom Group, WPP Group and Publicis Groupe. Fitch upgraded Interpublic's outlook to stable from negative (a week after Moody's similar move) and UBS issued a bullish report on the company, helping it gain 6.2%. WPP jumped despite investor complaints about a proposed executive pay plan.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended April 2 based on stock-trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices March 26. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.