Valley National News

Congratulations to 5 team members who have been promoted, in recognition of their hard work and contributions to our client-first culture.

Ryan Mulhearn, CIMA® and Michael Warch to Associate Financial Advisor, and Nico Wolfgang was promoted to Senior Associate. READ MORE

Elizabeth Wilson, CPA was promoted to Vice President, Finance & Tax Services, and Judianne Harris was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer. READ MORE

Elizabeth Wilson, CPA has been selected as the Rising Star Award recipient by Lehigh Valley Business as part of the 2019 CFO of the Year Awards. READ MORE

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 GDP data provided further evidence of healthy consumer spending.



Our Fed Policies grade remains a B+ after the Federal Reserve opted to cut its interest rate target by 25 bps following last week’s meeting. The cut was widely anticipated by markets, and if history is any representation, it is unlikely to be the last.



With 77% of S&P 500 companies having reported earnings as of August 2, the EPS growth rate for the second quarter is -1%. If that number holds up, we will have observed two consecutive quarters of year-over-year earnings declines for the first time since 2016.



The US economy added 224,000 new jobs in June, beating consensus estimates by a wide margin. We continue to view the jobs market as very healthy.



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 as the economic cycle continues to mature, this metric will deserve our ongoing attention.




On a 10 point scale, we currently assess the “international risks” to markets as a 6. The key areas of focus for markets remain US/China trade relations, the ongoing Brexit negotiations, and escalating tensions in the Middle East.

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.

Did You Know…?

People with a financial adviser say they aren’t just better with money – they’re happier with life overall. We think so, of course, but don’t take our word for it… read (and share) this Business Insider article covering the results of a Northwestern Mutual survey. READ MORE

Have you met all of our Financial Advisors? Get to know some of the senior professionals on our team:

The Markets This Week

by Connor Darrell CFA, Assistant Vice President – Head of Investments
As was widely anticipated by markets, the Federal Reserve opted to reduce its target interest rate by 0.25% last week. However, the dovish pivot was not enough to support equity markets, which ended the week in a downswing following a series of tweets from President Trump which indicated he was moving forward with an additional round of tariffs on Chinese goods. That this announcement came just one day after the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision is likely no coincidence, as the Fed’s accommodative stance will provide the President with greater confidence that the economy can withstand the consequences of upping the ante with the Chinese.

With the confirmation that interest rates would slide downward and the increase in equity volatility stemming from President Trump’s tariff announcement, the bond market managed a small rally last week. The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is now in the midst of one of its strongest years since 2011. 

Global Manufacturing in Contraction
Purchasing Managers’ Indices (which utilize survey data to evaluate business confidence and manufacturing activity) released last week revealed that global manufacturing activity remains challenged by the uncertainties posed by the U.S.-China trade dispute and Brexit negotiations. The U.S. PMI remains the only major region that has held above 50 (a critical level which separates expansion and contraction), though it has declined materially over the last several quarters. PMIs in the eurozone, Japan, and China all remained below 50 last month, indicating that these manufacturing markets are in contraction. 

Manufacturing is far more cyclical than top line economic growth, but the reduction in global manufacturing activity that we have observed over the past year is a symptom of the toll that mounting geopolitical uncertainties are having on business decisions. If businesses’ reluctance to invest in production permeates into hiring decisions, it could begin to impact labor markets and accelerate the arrival of the next recession. Given the relative health of the U.S. economy and the potential for these uncertainties to be lifted by a simple handshake between Presidents Trump and Xi, this scenario looks a long way from playing out.  But for investors who have achieved double digit returns in a year where the economic backdrop has continued to weaken, this type of data should not be ignored and may represent a reminder of the prudence of maintaining discipline and avoiding the urge to chase returns during late cycle investing.

“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 will not be live for the August 7 show. Questions submitted online will be addressed during the next live broadcast.

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