Saturday, August 21, 2010

US Stocks fall on Venus-Mars; Mercury retrograde begins

US Stocks trended lower last week as more bad jobs numbers suggested the recovery was more talk than reality. The Dow fell about 1% for the week and closed at 10,213 while the S&P500 finished at 1071. As has been the case recently, Indian stocks were able to sidestep most of the trouble as the Sensex closed at two-year highs at 18,401 with the Nifty ended the week at 5530. Considering how many bad planets were in play last week, this outcome actually wasn't too negative. I thought Monday's Mars-Rahu aspect might correspond with more selling but Asia was only down modestly and New York recovered after the open. The midweek gains appeared to fit neatly with the Venus-Rahu aspect as Rahu's devil-may-care attitude loosened the purse strings for Venus. As expected, sentiment turned sour by the end of the week as impressionable Venus kept the bad company of Mars. US and European markets fell sharply after Wednesday while India confined its bearishness to Friday only, the day of the exact Venus-Mars conjunction.

Mercury turned retrograde on Friday afternoon and this is yet a potentially disruptive element to the already dense planetary picture. Mercury's retrograde cycle will last from August 20 to September 12. As the planet of commerce and trading, Mercury naturally figures prominently in financial astrology. When it is afflicted by Saturn, stocks generally fall. When it is in aspect with benefics like Jupiter and Venus, stocks usually rise. When it changes its direction and begins to move backward from our perspective on Earth, sentiment often undergoes a shift. This is perhaps less reliable as an indicator of market direction and is better understood as a background influence. Astrological lore says that new business is best avoided during Mercury's retrograde periods, since its outcome will often be unexpected and unwanted. That is why astrologers usually recommend going back over old business to tie up any loose ends, or review already existing work. It's generally sensible advice in any event, but in market terms it can sometimes mean that the market will go over or "retrace" over previous territory. For example, if the market has been rising, then it may go lower in order to revisit its previous levels. In my experience, Mercury retrograde cycles are much less reliable than aspects for predicting outcomes. That said, we ignore Mercury's condition at our peril since it is such a crucial planet for business and commerce. And I would note that the previous correction during April and May corresponded fairly well to the Mercury retrograde cycle of April 18 - May 12. Again, nothing is ever perfect in astrology (or in life for that matter), but there does seem to be something there worth paying attention to.

So the retrograde Mercury cycle adds another burden to the markets this week. The Sun forms a minor aspect with Mars on Monday that could generate an unproductive level of energy that could be too much for the market. Some positive aspects are available going into midweek, however, so short-lived gains may still occur. The Sun aspects Jupiter on Tuesday, as does Mercury and Venus. These could well carry over into Wednesday. Later in the week, the picture appears to darken as Mercury teams up with irascible Mars (esp Thurs) while the Sun tries to make nice with pessimistic Saturn.

"A jug fills drop by drop." -- Buddha