Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stocks slide on Mercury retrograde; Venus enters Libra this week

Financial markets continued to look shaky last week as poor US housing data provided more evidence that the recovery may have stalled. Despite Friday's post-Bernanke rally, the Dow nonetheless closed down for the week at 10,150 while the S&P500 finished at 1064. Indian markets finally broke their winning streak and moved lower by more than 2% as the Sensex ended Friday's session at 17,998 with the Nifty closing at 5408. This latest weakness in the markets was perhaps a reflection of the Mercury retrograde cycle that began on August 20. Last week, I suggested that Mercury retrograde periods can be an added burden on sentiment which is often incompatible with higher prices. In addition, there were several difficult planetary combinations that would tend increase anxiety and take stocks lower. Interestingly, I had specified Thursday as a possible down day since there were two pairings that did not look favourable that day -- Mercury-Mars and Sun-Saturn. Thursday was lower in Europe and the US but India actually put in a positive performance. This is a reminder that there is always a margin of error in astrology, especially when dealing with global markets separated by many time zones. Sure enough, the Indian market then experienced a stronger selloff one day later on Friday while the US market rebounded after Bernanke's 10 a.m. promise to prevent deflation by any means necessary.

Like most complex knowledge systems, one of astrology's greatest challenges lies in trying to combine a high number of variables into one coherent picture. Nine planets, twelve signs, a dozen different aspects, 27 nakshatras, and so on -- that makes for millions of potential outcomes. And to make matters that much more intricate, there is comparatively little empirical evidence for the likely effects of each of these factors, much less what may happen when they occur simultaneously. This means a lot of astrological forecasting has to rely on deductive thinking from untested assumptions and theories about the potential effects of various planets and their interactions. Given this epistemological minefield, probabilistic thinking is a best case scenario and even that limited approach may come up short more often than we would care to admit.

The current situation is perhaps typical of many planetary setups that can best be described as "mixed". On one hand, the Mercury retrograde period extends to September 12 and may correlate with negative sentiment and repeating what has already been encountered i.e. retracing previous trends whether up or down, but often down. But Jupiter is fast approaching its conjunction with Uranus (exact September 18) and these two planets ought to increase risk taking and optimism for investment. Perhaps the result may be short term moves in both directions that ends in a sideways market.

This week we will get the effects of the second week of Mercury retrograde while Venus enters sidereal Libra on Wednesday. Venus tends to do better in the sign of Libra so we may see a greater focus on spending and the enjoyment of money. From a purely deductive perspective, this should be seen a positive factor for stocks, although it is only one out of many factors. By Friday, the Sun will conjoin Mercury while in close aspect with shadowy Rahu. This is an unusual combination of planets that suggests greater uncertainty and increases the potential for major moves. Rahu (North Lunar Node) is considered a malefic planet by nature, although it can sometimes have the opposite effect when circumstances support it. Given the close proximity of Mars to Venus, and the various Saturn aspects that are still in play, we may not have enough favourable energies to entice a positive result from Rahu. We shall see.

"It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer." -- William of Occam