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New business activity was mixed in July, with fewer accounts changing hands, but more billings in play. Thirty-three accounts worth $2 billion changed hands in the month, compared to 64 accounts worth $1.2 billion during the same time in 2002.

AdMarket 50

Unemployment hike is bad for stocks: The markets were dealt a nasty shock late in the week, when an unexpectedly downbeat employment report ended a weeklong rally. Rising August retail sales helped the markets up earlier in the week and tech stocks got a boost from another forecast upgrade from Intel Corp., but the rising unemployment hit the blue chips late in the week. For the week, 35 AdMarket stocks were down and 15 were up.

Agency companies benefited from rosier ad-spending forecasts and upbeat pronouncements by agency chiefs, while media companies slid as regulators and Congress battled over the relaxation of media-ownership rules. General Electric Co. was an exception; it rose nearly 5% on news that its NBC unit will acquire Vivendi Universal's U.S. entertainment assets. (See story, P. 1)

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Sept. 5, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices August 29. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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