Current Market Observations

All major market indices traded higher last week as weaker-than-expected inflation data ramped up hopes by investors that the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee would only raise the central bank’s key lending rate by just 0.25% rather than 0.50% or 0.75% that previous markets were predicting. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose +2.0%, the S&P 500 Index rose +2.7%, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ rose by +4.8%. (See additional specific returns below.) 

The hopes for a slower pace of rate increases came as data showed the U.S. consumer price index rose 6.5% year over year in December, paring from a year-over-year increase of 7.1% in November and a peak increase of 9.1% in June. The core U.S. consumer price index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 5.7% year over year in December, down from a 6% increase in November.

Several major banks, including JP Morgan Chase, continue to beat the drum for a recession in 2023, while other major investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, are not calling for a recession in 2023. We at VNFA continue to believe that the economy, consumers, banks, and corporations exhibit growth, balance sheet strength, and earnings growth, but admittedly, slower earnings growth. Lastly, labor continues to show near-record strength, with the unemployment rate hitting 3.5%, a 40-year low.  

What to Watch 

  • U.S. Producer Price Index Year over Year for December 2022, released 1/18/2023, (Prior 6.25%) 
  • U.S. Housing Starts for December 2022, released 1/19/2023, (Prior 1.427M) 
  • U.S. Job Openings:  Total Nonfarm for December 2022, released 1/20/21, (Prior 10.46M) 

The Q4 earnings reporting season will also move into full swing this week, and earnings are a good predictor of growth in 2023. Companies expected to release quarterly results next week include Morgan Stanley (MS), Goldman Sachs (GS), United Airlines (UAL), Charles Schwab (SCHW), Alcoa (AA), Procter & Gamble (PG), Netflix (NFLX), and Schlumberger (SLB). These firms are a good indicator of future market expectations and represent a wide dispersion across industrial and banking sectors. 

The Numbers & “Heat Map”


The 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. Interest Rates: Federal Reserve, Mortgage Bankers Association.

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




Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2022, in contrast to a decrease of 0.6 percent in the second quarter. The third quarter’s increase primarily reflected exports and consumer spending that were partly offset by a decrease in housing investment. The estimated growth rate for Q4 2022 Real GDP is now 3.8%.



The earnings growth rate for Q3 2022 was 2.4%. For Q4 2022, earnings are expected to decline by -3.9%, down from the previous estimate of -2.8%. This would be the first negative growth since Q3 2020 (-5.7%). So far, 29 S&P 500 companies have reported earnings, with 23 companies beating EPS estimates and 20 beating revenue expectations.



U.S. Nonfarm Payrolls for December 2022 increased by 223,000, and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5% from 3.7%. Leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance were among the sectors with the most notable gains.



The annual inflation rate in the U.S. increased by 6.5% for December 2022 compared to the November reading of 7.1%. This is the lowest CPI value since October 2021. Core CPI rose to 5.7% versus 6.0% in November. Most prices fell during the last month of the year, including food, used cars, and most energy sources. Electricity and shelter still saw an increase from the previous month.



Senator Manchin and Majority Leader Schumer agreed on the latest tax and energy bill with incentives for green energy, electric cars, and oil & gas companies for exploration. No changes in private equity taxes or higher tax rates for the very wealthy were enacted. The Senate has officially passed the bill. President Biden announced student loan forgiveness of up to $20,000, subject to income limitations.



Last month the Fed approved a 50-bps rate hike after four consecutive 75-bps hikes taking its target range to 4.25%-4.50%. Although the magnitude of rate hikes has been decreased, rates are likely to be kept higher through 2023 with no reductions until 2024. According to the FOMC’s dot plot, the expected terminal rate is now 5.1%. The next meetings will be held on at the end of January and the beginning of February.




While the Russian-Ukraine conflict does not show signs of abating, additional geopolitical issues have arisen in South America with the violent protests that hit the capital of Brazil last week. Following the October 2022 elections won by the left party, Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right supporters stormed Brasilia accusing the winning candidate and party of corruption. Bolsonaro is currently in Florida and has not communicated little publicly.



China has abandoned its zero-Covid policy, which should help the global supply chain recover. Gas supplies from Russia to Europe have decreased by 88% over the past year, and EU countries have agreed to cut gas usage by 15% as gas prices have more than doubled. Nevertheless, an unusually mild winter has helped most of Europe deal with increased energy costs.

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.

Tax Corner

According to the IRS, one of the first decisions taxpayers must make when completing a tax return is whether to take the standard deduction or itemize their deductions.

When starting the tax process, there are several factors to consider before making a choice, including changes to your tax situation, changes to the standard deduction amount, and recent tax law changes.

Want to learn more on Tax deductions, visit the IRS Tax Basics.

“Your Financial Choices”

Tune in Wednesday, 6 PM “Your Financial Choices” on WDIY 88.1FM. Laurie and her guest Bill Henderson, Chief Investment Officer at Valley National Financial Advisors will be discussing: The 2023 Outlook.

Questions can be submitted at during or in advance of the live show. Recordings of past shows are available to listen or download at both and