Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stocks continue to rise on Solar Eclipse

With the solar eclipse showing no immediate effects, markets continued their winning ways last week as stocks rose 4% on more good earnings reports. The Dow closed at 9093 while the S&P stood at 979. It was much the same story in Mumbai, as the Nifty climbed to 4568 and the Sensex to 15,378. While the eclipse correlated with modest declines Tuesday and Wednesday in India (but only Wednesday in New York), the apparently unstoppable ebullience highlighted the ongoing influence of the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction. While the late week gains fell in line with expectations for a bump up from the Sun-Moon parivartana yoga, I thought the eclipse might have claimed more victims. As I have previously noted, eclipses are not atomic clocks and cannot be relied upon to dictate market moves. They are probabilistic instruments not unlike road signs that notify the traveller of trouble ahead ("Construction Zone: next 10 miles"). Just when the trouble will manifest isn't always clear, but that Venus-Saturn square of July 22 does not portend a happy ending to this rally.

This week's planets would appear to offer more bullish fuel to investors as Venus forms an aspect with the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction (and later Uranus, too) while Mercury follows suit Wednesday and Thursday. Monday's positive alignment has a large asterisk however, since Mercury is in a close minor alignment with Saturn and that has the power to take markets down on at least one day in the early going. Nonetheless, the balance of energy would seem to favour the bulls here as we can expect to see stocks to bounce back from any losses they might incur. This seemingly bottomless reservoir of well-meaning but ultimately deluded hope will likely also push oil and gold higher. In the wake of the positive Mercury-Jupiter aspect late week, there is increased risk of a hangover-like reaction that follows the completion of a triggering aspect by a fast moving planet (Venus, Mercury) to a larger configuration of slower moving planets such as Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. In investment parlance, this reaction is known as profit-taking.

The planetary weather in August looks conducive to more gains on optimism over the prospects for recovery, at least at the outset. By month's end, however, the folly of our ways will be revealed.