5. 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

What's next

How stocks shake off geopolitical tensions

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

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.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020 - Business

Growing divide between the two Americas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Life in the U.S. is increasingly divided into two realities — one in which things have almost never been better and another in which it's hard to imagine them being worse.

Driving the news: Bankruptcies led more companies to announce job cuts last year than at any time in more than a decade, WSJ's Aisha Al-Muslim reports (subscription), citing data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.