Sunday, November 29, 2009

Market slides after Dubai suspends repayments

Stocks ended down last week as worries over the Dubai debt crisis brought back uncomfortable memories of the meltdown of 2008. After moving higher in the early going New York was mostly unchanged as the Dow closed Friday at 10,309 and the S&P at 1087. Mumbai was lower by 2% as the Sensex ended the week at 16,632 and the Nifty at 4941. I had been more bullish on the Venus influence here and, indeed, the market was generally higher through Wednesday, especially in the US. I was correct in expecting gains Monday in the US on the Moon-Venus-Jupiter aspect, and the market even backed off on cue in the afternoon as the aspect separated. Tuesday did see some of the predicted selling in the morning come to pass on the bearish Sun-Saturn aspect, although I thought the decline might have lasted more into the close. Instead buyers moved back in and bid up prices in the afternoon. Wednesday also went more or less according to plan as stocks rose modestly on the Venus-Uranus-Neptune influence. However, I missed the extent and precise timing of the late week Dubai decline. While I correctly expected Friday to be down on Venus' ingress into Scorpio and the Moon-Saturn-Pluto pattern, the Dubai news broke Thursday. One possible explanation here is that Thursday's Mercury-Mars "trine" (120 degree) aspect also played a key role in changing sentiment. Although the trine is often thought of as a positive aspect, Mars may have been particularly damaging in this instance since it was 1) debilitated in sidereal Cancer and 2) moving more slowly than usual ahead of its retrograde station in mid-December. Given the plausible role of a Mars aspect in this unfolding of the Dubai crisis, this may be a clue that the upcoming Mars retrograde cycle may not be kind to markets.

The main question on investors' minds this week concerns whether the Dubai problem can be contained or whether it will spread like a contagion and expose other areas of financial instability in the global economic system. The planets this week point to the latter scenario as the tense aspects appear to have the upper hand in the near future. Monday could be fairly mixed as we see both negative and positive aspects at work simultaneously. Moon transits Aries in square aspect with Mars but Mercury forms a nice angle with Uranus. The negative may carry the day here, especially in the US, but stocks should move higher going into midweek as the Moon is exalted in Taurus opposite Venus. But even if we see a day or two of gains, I think the overall bias seems negative, with the possibility of a big down day at some point. Mars' minor aspect with Saturn is exact on Friday so that identifies the late week as a potential danger zone.

The potential Dubai default has emerged here as a reasonable catalyst for a significant market correction. Certainly, the planets over the next few weeks would support some kind of pullback. The upcoming Mars retrograde cycle occurs during a tight Saturn-Pluto aspect and even aspects it quite closely if minor aspects and divisional charts are used. This are a very bearish confluence of measurements. At the same time, we still have to try to make sense of the conjunction between Jupiter (growth, wealth) and Neptune (hope, illusion) conjunction that is exact on December 21. This planetary combination of "growth" and "hope" is often correlated with gains and rallies as indeed we saw the rally in spring 2009 largely coinciding with this conjunction. One possible interpretation is that the Jupiter-Neptune rally will occur but it will be squeezed into a relatively short time span in mid-December. It may still be fairly strong in terms of amplitude but its overall effects may be mitigated by losses that occur before and after. Just how this source of positive energy manifests will be an important question in the days ahead. It's conceivable that it won't be enough to move markets very much at all. Instead it may only reflect the role of inflationary (Jupiter+Neptune) spending from huge deficits in the current economic circumstance. We will have to watch this aspect closely as it moves into position in the coming days.