Jan 30, 2019

1. U.S. jobless claims dropped to lowest in 50 years

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The number of Americans filing jobless claims fell to the lowest in close to 50 years last week. Based on historical trends, LPL Financial analysts argue this could signal a recession is further off than many expect.

The big picture: Jobless claims are a leading indicator, LPL Research Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch says. Historically, a 75,000–100,000 increase in claims over a 26-week period has been associated with a recession.

  • “The U.S. labor market remains strong and will help buoy consumer health and output growth this year,” Lynch said.

Yes, but: The data excludes 380,000 workers who went without pay because of the political impasse over President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Go deeper: Why you should stop worrying about a recession

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Unemployment fell to 50-year low in 2019 but wages stagnated

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's jobs report missed expectations, but still delivered solid numbers, showing the U.S. economy added well over 100,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained near a 50-year low.

The big picture: BLS reported that the number of people who were employed part time but would rather be full-time employees declined by 507,000 over the year.

How stocks shake off geopolitical tensions

Reproduced from LPL Research; Note: The average reflects figures from the original list. Not all market shock events were included in this reproduction; Table: Axios Visuals

U.S. stocks have already recovered their losses from tensions in the Middle East that flared when a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week. The same is largely true for crude oil, which has erased all of its gains since the incident, and a number of other risk assets.

What's happening: "Welcome to the brave new world where it appears that little short of full-fledged world war between nuclear-armed powers would be required to have a durable impact on financial markets. And even then, some begin to wonder," Reuters' Sujata Rao and Dhara Ranasinghe write.

U.S. economy adds 145,000 jobs in final report of 2019

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the government said on Friday, below economists’ expectations of 160,000. The unemployment rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — while wages grew 2.9% from a year earlier, the smallest gain since July 2018.

Why it matters: The U.S. job market held up in the final month of 2019, but heads into the election year with a slowing pace of job creation and wage growth.

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