The Ad Market

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THE SHORT-TERM PLAN: While advertising shows some signs of recovery from the 2001-2002 recession, media planners and buyers say this year still looks tough. Nearly half say media budgets are rising, but 64% say their jobs will be more difficult this year. Uncertainty about war in Iraq and the state of the economy are taking their toll; 51% of respondents say they plan media buys only one to three months in advance.

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Market seesaw continues: Iraq's agreement to destroy long-range missiles did little to calm investors' war fears as the anxiety and contradictory economic indicators held markets in check. The announcement of a better-than-expected economic growth rate in the fourth quarter did not offset the worst consumer confidence numbers in nearly 10 years, and a late-week rally fizzled. Only 14 AdMarket stocks were up for the week and 36 were down.

AOL Time Warner rose after company veteran Steve Swad was named chief financial officer of embattled America Online. Agencies were on the down side, with WPP Group falling on weak 2002 results. Omnicom Group rose after a positive 2002 report but took a hit late week after Moody's Investors Service downgraded some of its debt. (See stories on P. 10.) Stock in Interpublic Group of Cos., despite all the news (see P. 1), was a non-event, falling one cent for the week to $9.65.

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