Stocks mostly treaded water for another week as positive earnings reports offset the fallout from China's unexpected interest rate hike. In New York, the Dow briefly traded at levels last seen in near its April high before closing at 11,132 while the S&P500 finished at 1183. The Indian market was also mostly unchanged despite growing worries over the fast rising Rupee. After trading below 20,000 midweek, the Sensex ended the week at 20,165 with the Nifty closing at 6066. While I thought we might see more downside towards the end of the week on the Mars-Neptune aspect, prices adhered fairly closely to the storyline described by the key aspects, at least in the US. I had expected some upside from the Sun-Jupiter aspect on Monday and the Mars-Jupiter aspect on Wednesday and we did indeed see broadly based gains on both those days. (In Mumbai, however, the effects from the Mars-Jupiter aspect lagged somewhat as the 2% gain arrived on Thursday.) Tuesday's decline was quite steep and roughly corresponded to the difficult Venus-Saturn aspect, although I did not have an inkling that the selloff would be as large as it was.
As Fed Chair Ben Bernanke continues to promise endless stimulus through the purchasing of US treasuries, market sentiment has remained quite positive. Much of the rally since September has been driven by the assumption of another round of quantitative easing (so-called QE2) which will likely be announced sooner rather than later. With the next Fed meeting slated for November 3, it's worth reflecting on the possible outcomes of any announcements. Ketu (aka the South Lunar Node) will be in aspect with Mars on that day and this may well capture the jittery market mood then. Mars-Ketu combinations are usually found in situations that release a lot of energy in a short time and are sometimes found in accidents, violence, and other unpleasant circumstances. While Mars-Ketu contacts are not always connected with "negative" events, both planets are considered malefic by nature and there could be an urgency there that is incompatible with smooth or routinized behaviour. At very least, we know that trading volumes will likely rise sharply around that time.
This week will see an unusual blending of positive and negative forces as there will be two Venus conjunctions along with a strengthening of Ketu (South Node). Mercury conjoins retrograde Venus on Monday and when these two benefic planets combine there is usually a lift in the mood that accompanies higher prices. At the same time, however, this conjunction will occur in fairly close aspect to Ketu. Ketu can be a disruptive influence which undermines the status quo and generates surprising outcomes. This could either act as a mirror that flips the expected outcome from positive to negative or it may act as a magnifier that actually intensifies positive outcomes. A more clearly problematic set up occurs midweek on the Sun-Ketu aspect as confidence may ebb as government and leadership is called into question. On Thursday, there is a second Venus conjunction, this time with the Sun. This is also usually a favourable alignment of planets that boosts happiness although again, the presence of weird Ketu confuses matters somewhat. If nothing else, the impact of these two Venus conjunctions will probably be exaggerated in either direction, so larger price moves are more likely.
Quote of the week: "Coming events cast their shadows forward." – Goethe