Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gold tumbles $22 on possible June rate hike

. (24 May 2016) The price of gold tumbled today as investors considered the possibility of an early Fed rate hike in June following strong housing data.  Higher interest rates boost the US Dollar and thereby make gold less attractive as an asset.  Higher interest rates are believed to reduce inflationary pressures and this is bad news for gold since it is seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.  Gold fell almost 2% today closing at $1227. 

This sharp decline in gold was in keeping with the basic principles of financial astrology.  Financial astrology holds that assets rise or fall in value according to specific alignments of the planets.  Benefic planets like Venus, Mercury and Jupiter are said to coincide with gains while malefic planets like Saturn, Mars and the Nodes (Rahu and Ketu) tend to correlate with declines. 

I have observed that gold prices tend to vary according to the geometric situation of the planets Venus, Jupiter and the Sun.  When all three of these planets are strong by transit and without affliction from malefic planets, gold will tend to rise in value.  When malefics are more closely aspecting one, two or all three of these key planets, gold tends to struggle.  Saturn also tends to depress prices when it forms close alignments with slowing moving planets such as the Nodes (Rahu/Ketu) and the Outers.  The key natal charts for gold also play a role, of course, but the transits are an important reference point for understanding gold price fluctuations.

Today, Venus (6 Taurus) was closely opposed by Mars (7 Taurus).   The Sun (9 Taurus) had also just recently passed an exact opposition with Mars late last week which had also coincided with a more modest decline. 

Jupiter (19 Leo) forms a close 90 degree square aspect with Saturn (19 Scorpio) this week.  Since both planets move slowly (just a few minutes of arc per day), this 90 degree angle is in place for most of this week.   Therefore, we can see that all three key planetary significators for gold (Sun, Venus, Jupiter) were aligned with malefic planets this week.  This is one very important reason why I predicted a price decline for gold in this week's MVA Investor Newsletter.   With all three planets involved, I suggested a decline was a higher probability outcome at this time.

I have been fairly bearish on gold since March when Jupiter and Rahu (North Lunar Node) aligned with some key planets in the 1919 gold natal horoscope.  While gold has managed to hold above the key $1200 level since that time, it seems more vulnerable to declines going forward as Saturn becomes more dominant in the coming weeks and months.  The next acid test for gold may come next week on June 2nd and 3rd when both Venus and the Sun oppose Saturn and square Jupiter.  The Jupiter influence makes this a more complex alignment with less certain outcomes.  However, the presence of Saturn would seem to be quite bearish. 

Weekly Market Forecast

After being mostly flat last week, US stocks have moved somewhat higher in the early week here.  The Dow rose more than 1% today closing at 17,706.  India's Sensex slipped a bit last week but seems to have found its footing thus far this week closing modestly higher at 25,305 in the Tuesday session.  In last week's market forecast, I thought that further gains were unlikely last week as the late week Sun-Mars opposition was likely to coincide with declines.  This was more or less the case as stocks fell after rising in the early going. 

The rest of this week looks somewhat less positive.  In particular, Friday's Moon-Saturn aspect could coincide with some pessimism which may undermine any preceding gains.  While a mixed week is possible, the Saturn-Jupiter square aspect argues for caution and prudence.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mars and the ghost of 1937: the NYSE Solar Return chart

(17 May 2016) Today is a day of special significance in financial astrology as the New York Stock Exchange turns 224 years old.  The NYSE was founded on May 17, 1792, most likely around 10 a.m., although the exact time of its origin is a matter of some debate.  The birthday of the world's biggest and most venerable stock exchange provides a valuable window on the financial outlook for next 12 months. According to the basic principles of astrology, the return of the Sun to its position at the time of birth is said to contain clues for what may happen in the coming year.  This idea holds true for both individuals and collective entities such as the NYSE.  It is also worth noting that due to the procession of the equinoxes, the Sun does not actually return to its natal position of 6 degrees of sidereal Taurus until May 20th. 

The financial significance of the Solar Return or Vashphal chart emerges when it is overlaid with the natal chart.  Significant planetary placements and alignments determine if gains or losses are more likely in the coming year by the next birthday on 17 May 2017.  The core principle of financial astrology is that if malefic planets like Mars and Saturn form closer alignments then declines are more likely whereas benefic planet alignments will tend to produce gains.  Precedence is usually granted to the Moon, Sun and Ascendant in this regard so that the planetary alignments involving these points will have a larger influence on the final outcome.

At the time of last year's NYSE birthday, I suggested that US stocks were likely to decline in the subsequent 12 months since Saturn was very closely aligned with the Sun by 90-degree square aspect.

The bottom line here is that Saturn-Sun aspects that occur near the Solar Return chart on May 17th (or rather the 21st thanks to the precession of the equinoxes) will tend to have a depressing effect on the stock market.  While it is only one factor, I would think that it could well outweigh other positive factors in the chart.  This is another indication that stocks are likely to suffer a decline over the coming 12 months.

Stocks have indeed declined in the intervening 12-month period since May 17, 2015.  The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average has only fallen 3% since that time, although the broader and arguably more representative NYSE Composite Index is down 8% since last May.  Interestingly, the NYSE Composite peaked that very month and has been trending lower ever since, albeit with much deeper declines in August of last year and January-February this year.  It looks like Saturn had the final say there.

This year's Solar Return (SR) chart looks challenging again.  Like last year's chart, however, there are some positive alignments.  Venus (1 Taurus) is conjunct natal Mercury (2 Taurus).  This is quite a good pairing as both planets are considered benefic.  But Venus and Mercury tend to be lesser factors in shaping the overall outcome.  Since we have many planets across two charts, the number of possible aspects and alignments quickly multiply and become unwieldy for analytical purposes.  In my experience, alignments involving the Sun and Moon may take precedence.  We should omit consideration of the Ascendant here since the exact birth time of the NYSE is uncertain. 

Uranus (28 Pisces) is exactly conjunct the Moon in this year's SR chart.  Uranus often coincides with intensity, unpredictability and sudden changes.  This Uranus-Moon conjunction suggests this coming year will feature a significant amount of big moves in the markets -- even in both directions -- as the Uranus influence is actually neutral. By itself, it is not necessarily correlated with gains or declines.  The Uranus influence here does suggest that  the stock market may be in the news more than usual. 

This theme of unpredictability and even instability is echoed in the SR chart as the Moon (27 Libra) is closely aspected by Ketu (25 Aquarius).  Ketu has a similar effect as Uranus in that it disrupts the status quo and undermines fixed structures. 

The more difficult alignment here is that retrograde Mars (8 Scorpio) is in a close opposition aspect with the Sun (6 Taurus).  This is a negative influence which may well cast the deciding planetary vote for this chart.  True, we don't know if there may be offsetting positive influences on the Ascendant (e.g. a Jupiter conjunction).  But based on this Solar Return chart, I would the US stock market is likely to decline over the next 12 months.  Given the global dominance of the NYSE, this augurs poorly for most world stock markets also. 

The last time Mars was in a similar location in Scorpio opposite the Sun at the time of the May 17th Solar Return was in 1937.  Mars was also retrograde at 5 degrees of Scorpio that year on May 20th -- including the three-day correction for procession.  1937 is a well-known year in stock market history since it marked the first major bear market since the Depression in the early 1930s.  The markets had bottomed in 1932 and had been recovering fairly well for several years. 

But that all changed in 1937 as stocks peaked in February and then fell through the rest of the year.  In May 1937, the Dow stood at 175 and would eventually bottom in March 1938 near 100.  By May 1938 at the time of the next NYSE Solar Return, it had only slightly recovered to 110.  The stock market had declined 35% during that May-to-May SR period.  While we could make an argument for the importance of other factors in that 1937 SR chart, the Mars placement does stand out as the most obviously bearish. 

History may not necessarily repeat itself during this next SR but the placement of Mars just a few degrees away from its fateful placement in May 1937 is a possible warning of increased risk of declines.

Weekly Market Forecast

After slipping a bit last week, stocks recovered their footing Monday.  The Dow finished at 17,710 while India's Sensex posted a modest gain to move above 25,600. It is up again in early trading in the Tuesday session.  In last week's market forecast, I had expected fairly choppy trading given the mix of aspects through last week.   I thought we might have seen a little more late week upside last week although those gains appear to have manifested early this week so far. 

As the Sun enters Taurus this week and therefore sets up its opposition to Mars (!) and eventually Saturn, I would be surprised if stocks rose much further this week.  The late week looks more negative perhaps as the Sun-Mars opposition is closest at that time.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Apple in trouble after iPhone sales miss

(10 May 2016) It's tough times for Apple and its CEO Tim Cook.  Its most recent earnings report showed the first quarterly decline of iPhone sales in its history.   The disappointment in this iconic company persuaded many investors to bail out of the stock as prices touched new 52-week lows of $93. It had been trading as high as $130 in mid-2015.  A few days later, Tim Cook gave an exclusive interview to CNBC's cheerleader Jim Cramer in an effort to bolster interest in Apple's supposedly bright future.  However, critics saw the interview as a desperate PR move in the wake of the earnings failure and plunging stock price.

A quick look at the horoscope and we can see why Apple's stock price is falling these days.  The transit chart for April 27th, the day the 1st quarter results were released which sent the share price down by 10%, show Mars and Saturn in the 11th house of gains. Since both of these planets are natural malefics, this is bad for a company's prospects.  Mars (14 Scorpio) is very close to Mercury (16 Scorpio) there and highlights the late April period specifically as problematic for the share price.  Also, transiting Mars comes under the near exact 3rd house aspect of Saturn (15 Virgo).   This is the last thing an investor would want to see on the day that quarterly earnings are released since Saturn is a quintessential bearish influence.

Both Saturn and Mars come under the trine 5th house aspect of Rahu (18 Cancer).  Although neither are particularly tight aspects, they are unhelpful.  Mars is now retrograding away from this Rahu influence but Saturn is backing right into it in the coming weeks.  This should be another negative for the share prices that argues against any quick recovery for the stock.

Saturn will continue its retrograde station into July and August when it stations direct at 15 Scorpio.  This will form an exact alignment with natal Saturn (15 Virgo) by 3rd house aspect.  Moreover, it will conjoin natal Mercury (16 Scorpio) and exert more pressure on share price.  It is very bearish and suggests Apple will tumble further by the summer.

We can see other afflictions. Transiting Pluto (23 Sagittarius) is hovering around natal Mars (22 Sagittarius) for much of 2016 and may well create more problems for Apple's share price in the months ahead.

Dasha Periods

Looking at the dasha periods, we can see that Apple is now in the Jupiter-Moon period.  From my experience, it is the minor period which exercises a greater influence on the ups and downs in prices.  The stock price will tend to rise in benefic periods and fall in malefic periods.  From its natural qualities, one would think the Moon period would be bullish for Apple since the the Moon is a benefic planet.  However, the Moon is conjunct Ketu in the 1st house.  Ketu is usually a negative influence.  Also, the sign ruled by the Moon is Cancer and it is tenanted by Rahu, another malefic planet.  Therefore, the Jupiter-Moon period is less likely to see prices rise and we should not be surprised that Apple share prices have fallen since the start of the Jupiter-Moon period in August 2015.  Since the Moon minor period lasts until December 2016, Apple's share price is vulnerable to more declines. 

This negative dasha outlook is confirmed by the transit influences outlined above.  Taken together, we can say that 2016 looks very challenging for the tech giant.  Interestingly, the technical outlook also looks bearish as the current price of $93 is sitting on animportant support level.  A break below this level would likely indicate much more downside. 

The preceding dasha periods also roughly fit the price movements.  The preceding Jupiter-Sun period saw Apple hit its all-time high of $130 in 2015.  The Sun is placed in the 11th house of gains -- a very apt placement for a share rise.  However, the conjunction with Neptune offers a warning: Neptune is associated with ideals and illusions that are often unsustainable.   Apple peaked in mid-2015 and then fell back down towards $100 so the net outcome of the Sun minor period was essentially neutral.  The stock price didn't go anywhere.

By contrast, the previous Jupiter-Venus period was more positive as the price rose from about $70 at the start of the period to about $110 at the end of the period.  Venus is a benefic planet by nature and it is also well-placed in the natal chart since it is conjunct Uranus and the 10th house cusp (or "Mc").

And before the Jupiter-Venus period was the Jupiter-Ketu period.  Ketu is a malefic planet, of course, but here it is well-placed.  It is important to take note of the changeable nature of the Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu. While they afflict other planets they conjoin, they are themselves improved by these conjunctions.  That is the case here with Ketu as its potential is boosted through its conjunction with the Moon.  In addition, it receives a close aspect from benefic Jupiter. Therefore, Apple's share price rose during the Jupiter-Ketu period from $50 to $70.

Even Tim Cook's horoscope (November 1, 1960; no time) looks troubled as transiting Saturn is conjunct his Venus and squares his natal Rahu.  This looks like he will be preoccupied with losses and disappointment over the coming weeks.  As an added burden, transiting Rahu will conjoin with natal Rahu over the next few weeks.  Moreover, Pluto (23 Sagittarius) is opposite his Mars (23 Gemini) which suggests difficult situations involving frustration and stress, often as a result of power plays.  Since Pluto moves very slowly, this could be a very difficult year for the Apple CEO. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally declined last week on more concerns about growth in China.  The Dow ended the week down marginally to 17,740 while India's Sensex lost 1% to 25,228.  In last week's market forecast I thought gains would be fairly limited to the early week Sun-Jupiter alignment. As expected, we saw gains early and then some pull back later in the week on the Sun-Saturn alignment.

The early week has seen a nice bounce so far, presumably on the Venus-Jupiter aspect.  We could see some profit taking during Wednesday and perhaps Thursday as Venus aligns with Saturn. However, the late week alignments of Sun-Uranus and Mercury-Venus-Pluto may correspond to some upside.  So stocks could be fairly choppy for the rest of the week with moves in both directions.  Next week looks more problematic as the Sun enters sidereal Taurus and opposes Mars while Mercury aligns with Saturn.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dollar extends decline after Fed and BOJ hesitate on rates

(2 May 2016)  Global stock markets were lower last week after the Bank of Japan surprised investors by failing to deliver another round of QE stimulus on Thursday.  Coming just a day after the Fed issued a wishy-washy statement on the prospect for higher rates this year (definitely, maybe!), the stand pat decision by the BOJ raised a red flag that all may not be well in Japan.  Even more worrisome was the growing perception that the BOJ, and by extension, other major central banks, may be rethinking their policy options as the world economy looks as limp as ever. 

If the Fed has been painted into a corner by its fear of raising rates lest it spark a stock market crash, then the BOJ and ECB are looking like they are out of bullets.  Negative interest rates haven't worked in Japan as the Yen has actually risen (the exact opposite of the intended aim) and stocks have declined precipitously.  

Quantitative easing (QE) which mandated buying assets like government and corporate bonds was intended to move money into riskier assets like stocks.  This worked for the past few years but it now appears to be a case of diminishing returns.  Since the ECB's Mario Draghi introduced even more asset buying in March, the German DAX index has been mostly flat.  Maybe central banks are not as omnipotent as they think they are.  And more to the point, more market participants may be realizing that they are limited in terms of what they can do for the economy.  And if they can't resurrect the economy, then that may mean they will be less effective at keeping stock markets afloat. 

In last Wednesday's meeting, Federal Reserve signaled its preoccupation with ongoing troubles in the global economy. This made it even more reluctant to raise US interest rates.  Combined with the BOJ surprise non-move the following day, the Dollar fell to its lowest level since the middle of last year.  The decline pushed commodities like gold and oil higher.  Gold has now moved above $1300 while oil is fast approaching $50. 

We can see how the current planetary alignments may be interacting with the relevant horoscopes of the US Dollar.  Initially, we can take the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 (no time) as the birth of the Dollar.  The current decline in the Dollar Index from a high of 100 on December 1 to its current level below 93 may be linked to the transit of Saturn.  Saturn (now at 21 Scorpio) recently stationed in an exact 120 degree alignment with the natal Sun (22 Pisces).  Although this is not a standard Vedic aspect, it nonetheless should be seen as a negative influence on the Dollar.  The additional close alignments of Uranus (27 Pisces) and Pluto (23 Sagittarius) likely amplify the negativity of Saturn in this instance.

Another useful chart in this regard is the first trade chart of the US Dollar Index in 1985. The Dollar Index (USDX) is a aggregated value of the greenback against its major trading partners.  We can see how pivotal Saturn in Scorpio is in this chart also since it is conjunct the Ascendant (22 Scorpio) and Mercury-Uranus conjunction.  One of the most basic tenets of financial astrology is that Saturn transits are negative and usually coincide with declines, all other things being equal.  Here we have a situation where Saturn is central to two significant horoscopes representing the US Dollar.   The Dollar has fallen during the time period when this Saturn transit was closest. 

So what does the future hold?  As Saturn continues its four-month long retrograde cycle (begun on March 25th), it will back away from this conjunction at 21-22 Scorpio.  Therefore, I would expect some improvement in the Dollar fairly soon.  Other aspects also figure into the equation as Jupiter is about to station direct next week in Leo.  This may have a positive effect on the 1985 chart as it conjoins Rahu at the very top of the chart in the next couple of months.  This Jupiter-Rahu conjunction at 20-23 Leo will also aspect the Venus (20 Aquarius) in the 1792 chart so that is another bullish influence to consider.  Looking further ahead, I would also think that the entry of Jupiter into Virgo in August will also provide a lift for the Dollar. Jupiter remains in Virgo for 13 months until the fall of 2017 so that will likely keep the Dollar fairly strong.  Virgo is the 11th house of gains in the 1985 Dollar Index horoscope, so Jupiter's presence will probably coincide with a rally.

Weekly Market Forecast

As noted, stocks were generally weaker last week as worries about Japan's stagnant economy undermined confidence.  The Dow lost 1% on the week and fell below 18,000. It recovered somewhat today (Monday) but remains below the 18K level.  Indian stocks also fell with the Sensex dropping about 1% last week with an additional small decline on Monday. 

This negative outcome was in line with my expectations in last week's stock market forecast as I thought Thursday's Mercury retrograde station would likely coincide with some downside late in the week.  Moreover, Mercury's alignment with Mars was quite close (by 15 degree multiples) so that boosted the probability of a negative market mood. 

This week looks somewhat more positive at least in the early going as the Sun is aspected by bullish Jupiter on Monday and Tuesday.  Much of the positive influence of this aspect may have manifested already on Monday in the US, however, so it remains to be how much optimism is left.  Since the Sun aligns with Saturn on Wednesday and Thursday, I would be less positive about the second half of the week. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton widens lead over Bernie Sanders

(25 April 2016) With another win likely win in tomorrow's Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton looks poised to win the nomination in the race for the White House. Although socialist challenger Bernie Sanders has staged a surprisingly impressive campaign thus far, most polls show Clinton winning Pennsylvania easily.  Last week, Hillary cruised to a comfortable win in her home state of New York and essentially put the race out of reach. 

Interestingly, national polls still show Sanders in a virtual tie with Ms. Clinton.  But national polls don't count for much as it's all about the delegate count at this point, as her lead in pledged delegates is now over 250 and likely to grow as several pro-Hillary states such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut hold their primaries tomorrow.  It's an uphill battle for Sanders supporters who are now wondering if all the grassroots enthusiasm for Bernie may not be enough to translate into more actual delegate support before the end of the primaries in June and before the convention in late July.

My reading of the charts indicates that Hillary Clinton is destined to win both the nomination and the presidency.  The picture is not as clearcut as I would like to see, but on balance, I think Hillary will be the next tenant in the White House.  But how she gets there may include some unexpected twists and turns.  Given the astonishing rise of Donald Trump on the Republican side, nothing should surprise us about the current election cycle.   The American electorate is angry and is sending a message to Washington and the political elites that the status quo is no longer acceptable.

Back in early February, I predicted that Hillary Clinton might suffer some electoral defeats in February and early March but would eventually take a commanding lead by mid-April. This has more or less been the case as Bernie won some early primaries that made the race very competitive before Super Tuesday on March 1st.  Bernie's political betting odds to win the nomination peaked in mid-February around 25% on Pivit.io.   While Bernie has won some some additional primaries in April, they were all in small states and have not changed the expectation that Ms. Clinton will win the nomination.   Hillary is now seen as having a 95% chance of winning the nomination.

While Hillary looks likely to win tomorrow in Pennsylvania and Maryland, her horoscope does suggest some problems to her campaign quite soon, perhaps over the next couple of weeks.  There are a few different indications for trouble but I suspect the Mercury retrograde station on Thursday, April 28th could be the focal point.  Mercury stations retrograde at 29 Aries which is just one degree from her natal Rahu (North Lunar Node).  This can represent unexpected developments that derail plans.  The fact that Hillary's Rahu is in a tight square with Saturn only makes this Mercury station that much more potent.  It is not what I would call a high probability negative planetary pattern but it definitely contains some likelihood that Hillary will have to do some quick thinking and adapt to changing circumstances.

I'm not sure what this Mercury-Rahu conjunction might represent.  It may simply be poorer than expected primary performances, starting with Pennsylvania and Maryland tomorrow or in early May in Indiana.  Or on a more general level, it could be some negative development about her past, such as the ongoing FBI email investigation, her controversial Goldman Sachs speeches or even something like a betrayal of a former ally.  She could see her forward momentum disrupted somewhat in the days ahead, even if it may not do much to fundamentally change the direction of the race.  This could give the Sanders' camp some hope although she may not lose too much of her lead in the political betting markets.  (N.B.  Betting markets are usually more telling than polls)   But she will likely win California on June 7th (even if narrowly) and therefore will have the most delegates on the final day of the convention on July 28th.

Hillary Clinton's birth time remains a matter of some conjecture.  Most astrologers (including me) favour 8.00 a.m. although 8 p.m. is used by some.  Other times are also in circulation. For this reason, her chart is somewhat uncertain.  That's why I like to confirm possible future trends against the chart of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.  If she is doing well, then Bill's chart should surely also be looking fairly positive.  Bill Clinton's birth time is well established at 8.51 a.m.

We can see that some of that possible turbulence in the coming days in his chart also as Rahu (26 Leo) aspects his natal Moon (27 Aries) just as Mercury stations just two degrees away at 29 Aries on Thursday, April 28th.  The Sun-Mercury conjunction on May 9th will also align with both transiting Rahu and his natal Rahu so that is another time window when the Clinton campaign will be on the defensive with an unexpected problem.  As I said, however, I don't think this will change the race very much.

I'm not sure if the Democratic convention will be contested by challenger Bernie Sanders. It's possible, but I think Hillary will prevail anyway.  Bill Clinton's Moon receives a near-exact aspect of Jupiter (27 Leo) at the time of the convention.  This looks likely to represent a Hillary win.

As I mentioned, there could be some setbacks for the Clinton campaign during the run-up general election.  The late August Mars-Saturn conjunction at 15 Scorpio looks like it could afflict the Clinton campaign.  It squares daughter Chelsea's Sun (15 Leo) exactly.  Nonetheless, both Hillary and Bill have some very appropriate winning patterns in their charts.  However, these appear to be focused on early 2017.  For example, Bill has a minor progressed Jupiter direct station in March 2017.  This is a very positive indicator of success, even if it occurs two months after the Inauguration on January 20th and fully four months after the election.  As it happens, Hillary's chart also features a a minor progressed Jupiter station in March 2017.  This seems a little later than I would like to see for an election win in November, but it nonetheless augurs well for her electoral chances.

If we look ahead to election day on November 8th, we can see that transiting Jupiter (18 Virgo) is exactly conjunct Bill Clinton's Venus (18 Virgo).  Since Venus symbolizes the wife, one would think this is good news for Hillary and hence a victory against Cruz, Trump or whomever is on the GOP side.  Jupiter takes on an added resonance for Hillary here since it rules Pisces which is Bill's 7th house of marriage.  Since Jupiter is a benefic planets in most situations, this conjunction is another reason why a Hillary Clinton win is more likely in November.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks drifted higher last week on positive corporate earnings and a rebound in crude oil prices.  The Dow gained less than 1% on the week closing at 18,003 and the Indian Sensex also posted gains finishing at 25,838.  This positive outcome was in line with expectations from last week's market forecast, as I thought the Venus-Uranus conjunction would likely correspond with some upside.

This week has started modestly lower across the board, most likely due to the conjunction of the Moon with malefics Mars and Saturn as I noted in my weekend newsletter.   Of course, this week the focus will be on Wednesday's Fed meeting where Janet Yellen will provide the latest guidance on interest rates and the economy.  Most observers do not expect a hike this week but she may give important hints on the probability of a June rate hike.  Interestingly, Mercury turns retrograde on Thursday so that is another reason to think there could be a shift in investor expectations this week.  Since Mercury aligns with Mars for much of the week, there may be an elevated level of tension.  It seems unlikely that stocks can continue to rise in this tense environment and indeed some downside looks like a more likely outcome here.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Doha talks fail as Mars turns retrograde; oil falls below $40

(18 April 2016)  Crude oil tumbled below $40 a barrel Monday as OPEC failed to come to an agreement to cut production. The much-anticipated Doha talks were intended to reduce output and thereby boost sagging oil prices.  Interestingly, the collapse of the talks came the same day as Mars turned retrograde.  Mars retrograde stations only occur about once every two years and are often symbolic of times of heightened tension and discord.  Mars is often an aggressive and irascible energy but the periods around its stations (i.e. direction reversal) may be times when it is more potent in that regard.  It may be on reason why it was impossible to get the different parties to compromise and agree to a deal.

Oil is in a nasty bear market these days with no end in sight.  As the world economy struggles, demand is down.  Political pressure for alternative fuels may also be reducing demand and that pressure is only going to increase in the future.  As I noted in a December forecast of oil prices, the current dasha period is very difficult these days.  Using the horoscope of the Brent Crude chart, I suggested that the bear market since 2014 is partially due to an inauspicious Mercury-Saturn dasha period. 

Interestingly, the failure of the Doha talks on Sunday occurred on the very same day as the beginning of the new Ketu dasha period -- April 17, 2016 according to the Krishnamurthi ayanamsha.   Ketu is often a negative influence, especially on matter relating to wealth and value.  Ketu is likely to be even more problematic for oil prices since it is conjunct Mars in the natal chart. In that previous December post, I had suggested that the Ketu dasha would likely see oil prices remain under pressure and likely fall further.  We're only one day (!) into the 7-year long Ketu major dasha period, but so far Ketu is fulfilling its reputation for maleficence.

On the final day of the Doha meeting, we can see that Mars (14 Scorpio) turned retrograde while in opposition to natal Saturn (20 Taurus).  Transiting Saturn (21 Scorpio) is also opposite natal Saturn and square to the Sun (19 Leo) so that may be a source of additional pressure on prices.  One of the basic tenets of financial astrology is that Mars and Saturn tend to depress prices when they are involved in transit alignments.  As always, it is best not to rely on only one astrological indicator like dashas.  Transits, progressions, and return charts are useful sources of confirming evidence.  That is very much the case here where the Brent chart is both 1) in a negative dasha period and 2) under difficult transits. 

I would expect oil prices to remain low and probably fall further during this initial Ketu-Ketu dasha period which lasts until September 2016.  The following Ketu-Venus period will extend from Sept 2016 to Nov 2017 and could see a significant rebound begin in oil prices.  Venus is a benefic planetary influence in any event, and it is fairly well-placed in the Brent horoscope as it is in the 11th house.  It may be under pressure from the aspect of Saturn, however, there so that may mean we are unlikely to return to the old prices above $100. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks were higher last week on a positive corporate earnings outlook and a weaker US Dollar.  The Dow climbed almost 2% to 17,897 in New York, while Indian shares fared even better as the Sensex gained 3% to 25,626.  I had been fairly neutral about the week as a whole, although I noted some bullish influences midweek on the Mercury-Jupiter aspect.  Stocks did rise at that time but the upside was greater than I would have expected.  As it turned out, the potentially bearish alignments I noted for Monday and Friday didn't yield much downside. 

Global stocks were mostly negative Monday, presumably on the Venus-Saturn alignment and the initial aftermath of the Mars retrograde station.  US stocks reversed early and finished higher, however. The late week Venus-Uranus conjunction should coincide with some upside this week.  The fact that this conjunction also aligns with Rahu, Uranus and Mercury suggests we could actually see those gains occur at almost any time in the week.  It is hard to be too negative this week, although retrograde Mars could generate some surprises.  I tend to think that we won't see the negative Mars influence manifest until next week when it aligns with Mercury, which is also due to station retrograde on Thursday -- the day after the latest Fed meeting!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mars upsets Trump as Cruz gains ground

(11 April 2016) After looking like an unstoppable political force for months, the candidacy of GOP front-runner Donald Trump is looking more vulnerable these days   Not only was Trump soundly defeated by Ted Cruz in the recent Wisconsin primary, but the Cruz camp has been doing a much better job of collecting delegate support than Trump.   Primary results notwithstanding, delegate selection is critical in the event of a contested convention.  Most delegates only have to vote for the state winner on the first convention ballot, so on any subsequent ballots they are free to vote for whoever they want.  

Trump still enjoys a big lead in delegates over Ted Cruz but more commentators are now suggesting that it will be more difficult for him to reach the magic number of 1237 needed for a first ballot win at the convention in Cleveland on July 21st.   Some scenarios even have him attaining the 1237 mark by the convention, but still losing the nomination because some delegates may change their mind.  Needless to say, it promises to be a very eventful and chaotic convention.

Trump is now facing an uphill battle as the leadership of the Republican Party is now openly seeking ways to defeat him.  It has even come to the point where all the GOP candidates Trump, Cruz, and Kasich are questioning whether they will endorse the party's nominee after the convention.  This raises the likelihood of a fractured GOP and the possibility of an independent third party run by whoever loses the convention. 

The refusal of the candidates to come together around a single candidate has meant that the odds of an open convention are now greater than 50% on political betting markets.  The GOP itself seems on the verge of self-destruction as pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps appear to be moving beyond the point of compromise. This loss of momentum has been reflected in the political betting markets such as Predictit, Predictwise and Pivit.   The Pivit.io site showed the probability of a Trump nomination topping out just days before March 1st Super Tuesday at 84%.  As this chart tracking a Trump nomination shows, it has been falling ever since and has taken its greatest hit in the past two weeks.   Trump is still favoured to beat Cruz but now the margin is only 10%.

I am not surprised by Trump's recent difficulties.  In February, I had predicted that Trump would begin to experience some setbacks in March and that his momentum would likely stall.  I wrote that he would likely experience a significant setback "sometime between mid-March and mid-April".  This has more or less come to pass.  I thought that this setback could manifest as both electoral defeats and formal obstacles to the nomination.   The losses in March and early April have made the path to 1237 very difficult mathematically and now both remaining candidates are unlikely to support him if he actually wins. 

These troubles coincide with the close aspect of transiting Mars (14 Scorpio) to Trump's 11th house Mercury (15 Gemini).  With Mars slowing down ahead of its retrograde station on the 17th, Mars has been in close range of his Mercury for two weeks or more.  The 8th house aspect (=210 degrees) can be especially nasty in Vedic astrology and since Mars is due to station next week on that same degree, Trump will likely continue to feel under pressure from all sides.  Once Mars turns retrograde, however, things could get better for Trump as it begins to move away from his Mercury.  This should coincide with improved electoral outcomes for Trump as he is widely expected to carry the Eastern states like New York and Pennsylvania which vote on the 19th and 26th, respectively.

The horoscope of the Ted Cruz campaign suggests he is more likely to win the convention.  The convention will likely (!) be decided on July 21.  The Cruz campaign chart looks very good around that time.  Uranus (0 Aries) will be just days away from stationing retrograde exactly on the "MC" (=10th house cusp) and Mars of this chart.  Uranus aspects to the 10th house cusp are classic indicator for sudden or shocking events pertaining to career and status.  The fact that Mars is also there considerably ratchets up the power of this conjunction.  Jupiter (26 Leo) will aspecting the Moon (25 Aries) within one degree and both Sun and Venus will be a few degrees from the natal Jupiter.  

By contrast, the Trump campaign chart will have Mars casting its onerous 8th house aspect to the triple conjunction of Moon, Sun, and Mars.   That looks like way too much Mars energy and frustration to me, even if it is a little past exact.  Actually, Mars stations at 29 Libra on June 29th so that could create a lot of chaos and bad feelings for Trump in the weeks leading up to the convention.  For all the energy, initiative and assertiveness of Mars which can sometimes be harnessed productively, this 8th house aspect just looks like Trump loses on the convention floor in a very intense and emotional fight. 

I don't have a strong opinion of whether Trump will launch an independent campaign after he loses.  One would think he will given his continuing level of popularity and his alienation from the GOP.   But Ted Cruz looks much more likely to be the GOP nominee coming out of the convention in Cleveland.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally retreated last week as confusion over the direction of US interest rates prompted some investors to take money off the table.  US stocks lost more than 1% as the Dow closed at 17,576.  Indian shares fell by 2% to 24,673 as the market was disappointed by the modest 25 basis point rate cut by the RBI.   This modestly negative outcome was not too surprising as I had taken a fairly neutral stance in last week's market forecast.  As expected, Tuesday's Sun-Saturn alignment correlated with some declines.  The rest of the week was more mixed.

Yhis week Monday has been mostly positive although US markets reversed lower by the close.  This week looks rather mixed again.  Tuesday's Mars-Venus alignment hints at some negativity but the Mercury-Jupiter aspect will strengthen on Wednesday and Thursday and could produce at least some upside.  While Friday's Mercury-Saturn alignment seems somewhat bearish, it may not be enough to produce a down week overall.   Mars turns retrograde on Sunday the 17th so that is a wild card factor of sorts.   Like Saturn turning retrograde in late March, this Mars retrograde station could correlate with some markets reversing their dominant trend. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.