Sunday, February 14, 2010

Face off: Mars-Saturn vs. Venus-Jupiter

The EU sent Greece an early Valentine's Day gift last week in the form of loan guarantees that would prevent any sovereign debt default. Markets were appropriately impressed by this declaration of true Eurozone love, however expedient, as stocks broke their string of declines and posted their first winning week in a month. In New York, the Dow rose a little under 1% to close at 10,099 while the S&P closed at 1075. Despite China's attempts to choke off any emergent financial bubble by raising bank reserve requirements (Oh, the liquidity!), Mumbai followed the trend higher as the Sensex added more than 2% before finishing at 16,152 with the Nifty at 4826. Gold futures also joined the relief rally as it added 3% to close at $1093. In keeping with expectations, the early week Venus-Neptune aspect provided some support for prices as did the Mars-Jupiter-Saturn alignment midweek as Thursday posted a strong gain. Friday's decline in New York coincided nicely with the Mercury-Mars aspect, although this affliction turned out to be more anemic than expected as the sell-off at the open was countered by bargain hunting for the rest of the day. The gain was a reflection of good (Neptunian) faith, however, as investors await details of the EU bailout before they can put their debt paranoia to rest -- at least until the next victim comes out of the shadows.

We may see another display of Neptunian faith this week as the Sun conjoins Neptune on Monday. While US markets will be closed for a holiday, this combination of planets may be an expression of government (Sun) action that inspire hope (Neptune). While this may give the credulous some reason to put pressing existential questions aside, Neptune can often lead to disillusionment and illness, another unfortunate manifestation of the mythical God of the Sea. The Mars-Saturn aspect is an ongoing concern this week also since both planets are moving very slowly through their retrograde cycles. This is generally not a positive influence although in the right circumstances the two malefics can symbolize "doing what is necessary" no matter how onerous or painful it may be. In the present situation, that could mean extending some kind of lifeline to profligate Greece, but Mars-Saturn rarely offers solutions without someone enduring some suffering. The EU-enforced austerity measures will obviously mean some suffering on the part of the Greek people.

But the picture is made more complicated by the fact that Venus and Jupiter will conjoin on Wednesday. In planetary terms, Venus and Jupiter is a bit like someone eating a seven-course meal with champagne next to person with on a Mars-Saturn diet of stale bread and water. Perhaps Wall St vs. Main St is a more apt description. So there are some opposing energies at this week as the financial world comes to terms with the realization that credit markets may be a little less robust than previously thought. Bond yields are starting to rise to reflect this emerging nervousness and it may well be only a matter of time before Ben Bernanke's version of Pump It Up comes back down to earth.

The high number of simultaneous aspects makes direction harder to call this week. It may result in an unsatisfying stalemate, albeit with a day or two of large moves. Wednesday's Venus-Jupiter conjunction looks a little more suspicious than other days so if there's a hangover from the EU bacchanalia bailout, it may show up around this combination. Even if the market moves lower, there is likely to be a bounce that should extend into early March on the strength of the conjunctions of Sun-Jupiter and Venus-Uranus. After that, the planets are again dominated by Saturn, the cruel teacher of necessary lessons.