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As the first-quarter earnings season got started, investors took good news where they could find it-mainly in consumer staples such as food and pharmaceuticals. But Wall Street stayed away from media and advertising companies, which lumped at the bottom of the AdMarket rankings. For the week, 20 AdMarket stocks were up, 29 were down and one, General Motors Corp., was unchanged.

Wall Street is now divided between experts who argue the recession ended in November and those who say the downturn merely hit bottom and will scrape along during the first half.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketers, agency and media companies for the week ended Jan. 18, 2002, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are based on closing prices Jan. 11.

After a drop of more than 22% in September, ad spending returned to the 2001 version of normal in October. Print media remained weak as newspapers dealt with the drop in real-estate and employment advertising due to the recession. Year-over-year comparisons of TV and radio-already skewed by the absence of political advertising-got worse as stations devoted time to commercial-free coverage of the military action in Afghanistan.

Notes: Figures in millions of dollars. All percent changes are vs. the same period in previous year. Monthly totals don't include outdoor.

Source: Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR

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