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Turn Signals

The ad spending recovery continued to gain traction in February, with even the business-to-business publications posting gains. Totals were helped out by comparisons to the year-ago period, when the uncertainty leading to the Iraq invasion depressed totals in February and March. Local media-which were sharply affected by the pre-war slowdown last year-showed strong year-over-year gains. Nearly all broadcast media showed healthy double-digit increases, except for cable and Spanish-language TV, which were showing robust growth in the year-ago period.

Admarket 50

Inflation, oil flatten stocks: Rising oil prices and another rise in the Consumer Price Index-the inflation gauge investors fear will force an interest-rate hike-scared off Wall Street. Investors sold off stocks, regardless of strong earnings reports from the likes of Wal-Mart Stores and Walt Disney Co. and good April sales reports from retailers. For the week, 16 AdMarket stocks were up and 34 were down; Wal-Mart and Intel Corp. were tied.

Disney's stock rose after reporting a strong quarter (See The Week, P. 20). Newspaper companies rose, after many reported ad linage gains in April, but agencies did not share in the gains. Interpublic Group of Cos. dropped in spite of announcing new agreements with creditors that will let the company pay dividends and buy back shares.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended May 14, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices May 7. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX

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