DOW JONES AVOIDS A BEAR MARKET

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered from bear market territory to close only slightly down on March 22, while the Nasdaq index came back to life to close up 67.47 at 1,897.70 points. The Dow dropped more than 20% from its record high of 11,722.98 on Jan. 14, 2000, but recovered enough to close down only 97.60 at 9,389.40.

Investors were shaken when Procter & Gamble Co. announced it would eliminate 17,400 jobs (on top of the 15,000 job cuts announced in in 1999), or 17% of the company's employees, in a cost-cutting and Charles Schwab & Co. warned its first-quarter earnings will fall short and announced 3,400 layoffs.

Agency stocks took another hit, especially European agency companies, which were hit by the spread of economic weakness abroad. Once again, MarchFirst Inc. was the hardest hit, closing down 11.11% at 25 cents, down 3 cents. American Depository Receipt Shares of Cordiant Communications Group were down 10.21%, and ADRs of French agencies Publicis Groupe and Havas Advertising were down 9.12% and 7.83%, respectively. Cordiant closed down $1.99 at $17.51, Publicis dropped $2.81 to close at $28, and Havas was $1.06 lower to close at $12.50.

Havas Chief Creative Officer Jacques Seguela told reporters the company needs to acquire another agency, after failing to reach an agreement with True North Communications. At a briefing in Paris today, he mentioned Grey Global Group and Cordiant as two possible targets. -- Mercedes Cardona

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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