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Turn Signals

The Conference Board's Help Wanted Index-a strong indicator of the health of the job market and the newspaper industry-dipped one point to 39 in March, but it has been holding steady since November. The index of help-wanted volume nationwide appears to have bottomed out after two years of steady drops. That's a good sign for newspapers; many publishers reported the volume of help-wanted ads has begun to edge upward in recent quarters.

Admarket 50

Oil, Iraq, Fed pound stocks: The week started with slow April retail numbers, but Wall Street was encouraged when the Federal Reserve Board let interest rates stand. But more violence in Iraq, crude oil at $40 a gallon and a strong jobs report-which could make the Fed hike rates, after all-sent investors running for the exits late in the week. For the week, 19 AdMarket stocks were up and 31 were down.

Yahoo! regained some ground, after getting smacked a week earlier by the Google IPO announcement. Strong earnings helped other agency and media companies, including Meredith Corp., which posted a 32% increase in net income, and Grey Global Group, with 23.5%. (See story, right) Meanwhile, investors panned Primedia's plan to issue notes to cut its debt.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended May 7, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices April 30. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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