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U.S. measured ad spending rose a modest 3.8% in the third quarter, vs. gains of 5.3% in Q1 and 2.9% in Q2. January-September rose 4%.

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Focus on: (AMZN) is likely to have record ad spending in 2006, but don't read much into that. The e-tailer early this decade slashed ad spending when it made free shipping a cornerstone of marketing. Based on year-to-date measured-ad-spending growth1, '06 ad expense should surpass 2000's record $172M. But back then, advertising consumed 6% of revenue; this year, ad costs for the first time could fall below 2%. Shipping consumes 2.9% of revenue.

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Wilshire 5000 hit its top point since 2000. Catalina Marketing soared after hiring Goldman Sachs for sale advice; private-equity firms are circling.
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