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Employment in advertising agencies rose to 428,200 in March, up 0.8% from February's total. But total employment in the industry -- including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing agencies -- is still 1.1% below the year-ago period. The numbers are expected to improve this year, as most agency holding companies complete their restructurings and new business picks up.

Admarket 50

Oil drop saves the day: Fearing oil-driven inflation, investors had been selling earlier in the week, but returned to pick up beaten-down shares when oil prices dropped below $40 a barrel late in the week, leaving markets flat. Twenty-eight AdMarket stocks were up and 22 were down.

The attention to the network upfront marketplace translated into modest gains among advertising and media stocks that had been driven down in past weeks, but Viacom lagged due to skepticism about radio's recovery and Walt Disney Co. continued to suffer from its boardroom woes. Separately, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia dropped following news of its namesake TV hiatus, but recovered on news of perjury charges against a key prosecution witness. (See The Week, p. 12)

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended May 21, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices May 14. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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