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Turn Signals

Employment in the advertising industry dropped again in December 2003, down 1.4% from the year-ago period, in spite of signs that the industry layoffs are tapering off. Total employment in the industry -- including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing-dropped 2.4% in 2003 to 430,600, a third consecutive annual loss.

AdMarket 50

Inflation fears spook markets: A jump in the Consumer Price Index deflated stock markets at the end of a short holiday week. Investors scared off by fears of inflation cashed in gains on shares that had performed well recently. Only 15 AdMarket 50 stocks were up for the week, 34 were down and AT&T Corp. was unchanged.

Investors sold off favorite Omnicom Group, in spite of having posted another strong quarter (see story, right), and Univision Communications also suffered when it followed a strong fourth-quarter report with a first-quarter forecast Wall Street found too low. Inflation is good news for consumer products companies looking to raise prices and those companies led the gainers, along with retailers, led by Wal-Mart Stores' strong fourth-quarter report.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Feb. 20, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Feb. 13. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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