Valley National News

Congratulations to our Junior Accountant Brinda Vyas for completing the ArtsQuests Volunteer Ambassador training.

Ambassadors are experts on the organization and use their knowledge and skills to represent ArtsQuest and their fellow volunteers as well as dedicate time to the mission and values of the organization. After applicants are accepted into the training program, they participate in a seven-week course to learn about all aspects of ArtsQuest and its involvement with the community of Bethlehem.

Brinda, who has worked at Valley National since 2015, considers volunteering a priority. “Music has been a great influence in my life,” she said. “ArtsQuest brought together my passion for music and the opportunity to give back and share that with others in my community.”

The Numbers & “Heat Map”

Sources: Index Returns: Morningstar Workstation. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three, five and ten year returns are annualized excluding dividends. Interest Rates: Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac

The health of the US economy is a key driver of long-term returns in the stock market. Below, we grade 5 key economic conditions that we believe are of particular importance to investors.



Our consumer spending grade remains an A. Surveys of US consumers continue to indicate that the consumer is in a strong position, and recent retail sales figures surprised to the upside.



Following its March meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled to markets that it may not hike interest rates during 2019, and plans to halt its balance sheet reductions. The Fed’s future actions will remain data dependent, but the contractionary policies that have dominated the last two years appear to be on pause.



Corporate earnings remain strong, but we anticipate earnings growth will taper off in 2019. According to Facset, the expected earnings growth rate for S&P 500 companies during 2019 is around 4%. This is below the long-term average for the current cycle.



The US economy added 263,000 new jobs in April, helping to push the unemployment rate to its lowest level in over 50 years. We have now observed 100 consecutive months of job growth in the United States.



Inflation is often a sign of “tightening” in the economy, and can be a signal that growth is peaking. The inflation rate remains benign at this time, but we see the potential for an increase moving forward. This metric deserves our attention.




The above ratings assume no international crisis. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest level of crisis, we rate these international risks collectively as a 5. These risks deserve our ongoing attention.

The “Heat Map” is a subjective analysis based upon metrics that VNFA’s investment committee believes are important to financial markets and the economy. The “Heat Map” is designed for informational purposes only and is not intended for use as a basis for investment decisions.

The Markets This Week

by Connor Darrell CFA, Assistant Vice President – Head of Investments
A Friday rally (triggered by a very strong April jobs report) helped markets finish the week with modest gains as investors focused heavily on resumed trade talks between the U.S. and China, as well as the Fed policy-setting committee meeting. Markets were slightly disappointed by the news coming from both China and the Fed, and that weighed on sentiment throughout the week despite some positive earnings surprises from major companies. 

Too Much, Too Fast?
The S&P 500 has rallied more than 25% from its closing level on December 24, 2018. During that rally, there have been precious few opportunities for those who moved to the sidelines during the market turmoil to jump back into the fray. And while the market has resembled a swinging pendulum over the past eight months, investor sentiment has oscillated just as much. Ned Davis Research tracks a number of data points in an attempt to measure the magnitude of investor sentiment, and recently reported that sentiment has shifted into the realm of “excessive optimism.” Readings such as this are typically viewed as a contrarian bearish signal. 

It is rather remarkable for sentiment to move so wildly in just a few short months (that same sentiment indicator was signaling “excessive pessimism” back in December), and investors should be cautious about chasing the rally at this point in time. We believe that at current market levels, a near-term pullback would likely be helpful in resetting investor expectations and would present an opportunity for investors looking to move some cash back into the market.

“Your Financial Choices”

The show airs on WDIY Wednesday evenings, from 6-7 p.m. The show is hosted by Valley National’s Laurie Siebert CPA, CFP®, AEP®.

THIS WEEK, Laurie and her guest, James J. Ruggiero Jr., Esq. AEP®, Managing Partner at Ruggiero Law Offices, discuss: “Caring for a loved one – Alzheimers and planning.”

Questions can be submitted live on air by calling 610-755-8810 or sent in online anytime at

Recordings of past shows are available to listen or download  at both and