Ad Watch

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Employment in the advertising industry rose to 425,100 in February, up 0.4% from January's total. But total employment in the industry-including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing agencies-is still 1.6% below the year-ago period. Agency staffing is at its lowest levels since late 1996, as the holding companies try to control costs by increasing productivity among their existing employees.

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War trumps earnings: Earnings season got off to a good start with strong first-quarter reports and healthy retail sales. But fighting in Iraq soured investors' mood, leaving stocks flat before the Good Friday holiday. For the week, 24 AdMarket stocks were up, 25 were down and Harte-Hanks was unchanged.

Agency and media stocks were mixed for the week, with newspapers up as Wall Street expects strong first-quarter reports this week. Yahoo! rose after it reported its best-ever quarterly results and News Corp. picked up after it announced it will move its headquarters to the U.S. Investors bid up Interpublic Group of Cos. stock after Fitch Ratings upgraded its credit rating and dropped Catalina Marketing after CVS Corp. dropped from its health-care marketing database.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended April 9, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices April 2. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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