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Consumer confidence is important to the economy, but agency executives say corporations' confidence in their quarterly earnings is more important to ad spending. Many agencies were encouraged as corporate earnings misses and warnings dropped sharply in August, when it looked to some as if the recessionary cycle could be approaching bottom. But the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks put such hopes in doubt, suggesting more companies will be looking to cut costs-and possibly cut advertising-as they scramble to deliver profits for Wall Street.

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