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Turn Signals

Employment in advertising agencies showed unusual vigor in October, a sign that the industry may be turning a corner. Total employment in the industry-including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing agencies-rose to 431,300 in October, up 1.2% from September's number and up 1% over September 2003. That follows a 0.2% year-over-year increase in September that was the first since April 2001.

Admarket 50

Slow start: Christmas was definitely over in the financial markets, as the year started with ho-hum holiday retail sales reports and a lukewarm jobs report that disappointed Wall Street. Only seven AdMarket stocks were up for the week and 43 were down.

Wal-Mart Stores rose when it posted better-than-expected holiday sales figures; the retailer took a beating last month when it appeared to lose ground after backing away from aggressive holiday discounting. Omnicom Group, a favorite among the agency stocks, held on to gains in spite of a couple of downbeat outlook reports from media analysts. Catalina Marketing Corp. slipped in anticipation of its earnings report later this month; analysts fear it faces tough revenue comparisons this year.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Jan. 7, based on stock-trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial-news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Dec. 31, 2004.

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