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Turn Signals

Employment in the advertising industry dropped again in January, down 1.8% from the year-ago period. Total employment in the industry-including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing agencies-remains at its lowest levels since late 1996, in spite of signs of improving ad spending among marketers. The agency holding companies say they are controlling their staff costs-a key variable in their budgets-by increasing productivity among existing employees and some agency companies-most notably Interpublic Group of Cos. and Havas-are still undergoing restructurings.

Admarket 50

Terror, jobs leave stocks flat: Rising concerns about Middle East tensions and the jobless recovery plagued the markets early in the week, leading to another year-to-date low. Depressed stock prices set the stage for the mid-week return of bargain hunters encouraged by an upswing in consumer confidence, which left markets flat for the week. Only 18 AdMarket stocks were up, 31 were down and Coca-Cola Co. was unchanged after recalling its Dasani water in the U.K. after a pollution scare.

Economic news hurt ad-related stocks. All agencies were down, except Omnicom Group, which rose 1.41%. Yahoo! was among the few media gainers after it announced a deal to buy European shopping site Kelkoo, while Univision dropped in spite of news that Moody's Investors Service may upgrade its debt.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended March. 26, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices March 19. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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