Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stocks slip after Saturn-Uranus aspect; Venus enters Virgo this week

Stocks took a breather last week from their July rally as the flow of upbeat economic news was countered by more signs the economy is slowing as US GDP numbers missed estimates. Despite some gains early in the week, the Dow relented and ended mostly flat closing at 10,465 with the S&P leveling off at 1101. Indian stocks eased off their recent highs as the Sensex fell more than 1% to close at 17,868 and the Nifty finished at 5367. The inability of stocks to push higher here was not surprising given the apparent passing of the baton from Jupiter to Saturn. Last week, I noted how the Saturn-Uranus opposition on Monday April 26 may mark a shift in the overall planetary energy. After all, the previous market top had occurred on April 26 and coincided with another Saturn-Uranus opposition. Did this phenomenon repeat its uncanny delimiting of the end of a rally and initiating a new, more negative phase? As always, time will tell, but last week's action has so far conformed to this expectation since the interim highs were put in within just one trading day of that aspect -- Friday in Mumbai and Tuesday in New York. Prices largely retreated afterwards as New York failed to push above key technical resistance levels.

So now we've had Saturn stare down Uranus. Now what? Has Jupiter really run out of gas and is no longer in a position to produce optimism that can push prices higher? Jupiter's proximity to Uranus is one important factor that could help support prices in the wake of the Saturn-Uranus opposition. And yet since Pluto is also now increasingly in the mix, there may simply be too much stressful energy available that would be conducive to buying. The problem for the markets is that Jupiter's aspect with Pluto is now separating and therefore it is losing energy. Since this was one of the engines of the July rally, this could be a worrisome development. And now Saturn appears to dominate the list of major aspects for the next few weeks. Mars conjoins Saturn today (July 31) and then Venus conjoins Saturn on August 8, Saturn opposes Jupiter on August 16 and Saturn squares Pluto on August 21. That's a lot of Saturn and given the high number of hard aspects involved in the near term, it seems unlikely the markets will be able to proceed in an orderly, predictable and especially positive way. Large swings may be more likely as a result of these aspects with the caution increasingly becoming the lowest common denominator.

Venus enters sidereal Virgo this week so that is another brick in the wall of worry that the market has to contend with. Venus is debilitated in Virgo so its usual free spending, happy-go-lucky self cannot fully express itself when it transits this sign. The presence of malefics Mars and Saturn in Virgo only compounds this problem and could well make spending and risk taking more problematic. As an added twist, Venus is coming up to its retrograde cycle that begins in October, so it is slowing down now. This means it will spend more time in its weakened state in Virgo and will transit in a close conjunction with Mars for several weeks. While this ongoing Venus-Mars combination may be suitable for courtship and athletic endeavours, it seems less favourable for investing. Mars aligns with the Jupiter-Pluto aspect midweek so that may spark some impulse buying although it is likely to be misconceived in some way and ultimately wasteful. Later in the week, Mercury is aspected by shadowy Rahu so that is likely to disrupt communication and normal patterns of commerce and trading.

"On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity." -- Adam Smith