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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- The S&P 500 delivered its fourth record high in five days on Friday, ending with the biggest monthly gain since February.

The S&P's big run capped a week when that saw the index pass the 2,000-point mark for the first time. In all, the index ended August with a 3.8 percent gain.

All this driven by months of solid job gains, strong company earnings and a lot of corporate deals. Those factors contributing to a bull market that's been going for more than five years now.

UAMS signs marketing contract with new agency

After years of in-house marketing, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has hired Swanson Russell of Lincoln, Nebraska, to be its advertising agency of record. The value of the contract is $670,000.

The majority of the hospital's internal marketing will continue to be done in-house. But UAMS said that with a changing health care climate, it felt it was a critical time to ramp up advertising the academic side of the medical facility in an effort to increase funding.

Fourteen agencies from across the country made proposals for the contract, but only one of four finalists, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, was from Arkansas.

Spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said it chose Swanson Russell because it has experience working with academic health science centers like UAMS.

Statewide alcohol sales makes ballot

A proposal that would end dry counties in Arkansas gathered enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.

The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment needed a little more than 78,000 signatures to go before voters on Nov. 4. Secretary of State Mark Martin's office late last week that organizers turned in 87,000 that were verified to be from registered voters.

David Couch, organizer of the group sponsoring the ballot item, hopes to raise $1.5 million from grocers and convenience store owners to campaign for the amendment.

Right now, 37 of Arkansas' 75 counties are dry.

Attorney Elizabeth Robben Murray, who represents a group that opposes Couch's measure, has said they expect to challenge the validity of the measure before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

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