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New business picked up in March for the third month in a row. Forty-eight accounts changed hands, compared to 30 a year ago, and they were worth $1.1 billion, up 85% from $600 million last year. Omnicom Group continues to win business at a steady clip and retain existing accounts, while Publicis Groupe and Interpublic Group of Cos. appear to be getting their account turnover under control. Publicis, which suffered from $1.8 billion in account defections over the last 12 months, has only lost $207 million this year and shows a net gain. Interpublic, while on the losing side of the Sprint Corp. consolidation-to Publicis & Hal Riney-has reduced its losses year-to-date.

Admarket 50

Interest rates, inflation depress markets: More grim news from Iraq and mixed economic indicators continued to haunt stocks. Investors were spooked by reports that industrial production was down and inflation up in March but were relieved by strong first-quarter retail sales and March housing starts. Stocks rose late in the week after the Federal Reserve Board hinted interest rates will stay put. For the week, 18 AdMarket stocks were up, 31 were down and Havas was unchanged.

Pharma stocks-considered inflation-proof-rallied, but media stocks were mostly down. Time Warner was hit by reports of federal charges coming against executives and Walt Disney Co. by renewed shareholder strife. Tribune Co. sank in spite of rising ad sales, when earnings missed analysts' expectations.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended April 16, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices April. 9. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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