Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stocks flat ahead of Venus retrograde; Mars strengthens

Stocks took a breather from their recent rally last week as mixed economic signals lessened the appetite for risk. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down slightly for the week at 10,829 while the S&P500 closed at 1146. Indian stocks fared better, however, as they extended their impressive winning streak for another week with the Sensex gaining 2% at 20,445 with the Nifty finishing at 6143. While the US market was more tentative last week, I thought we might get more bearishness on the Saturn-Ketu square aspect. Friday's positive performance across the board also seemed anomalous given the apparently negative Sun-Saturn conjunction that day. Sometimes these aspects act as reversal points rather than simple market correlates although the latter view is somewhat more common. Moreover, the ability of these planets to move sentiment is also contingent on any forthcoming alignments. With the retrograde cycle of Venus beginning on Friday, October 8, we have to wonder if the whole Saturn-for-Jupiter hand off scenario could be forestalled until then.

Not only will we have the beginning of the Venus retrograde cycle this week, but it is important to note that Venus will be in close conjunction with Mars. Given the red planet's reputation for nastiness, this could have a onerous effect on Venusian activities such as spending, buying and enjoying luxuries. Mars is an active energy so it may well increase trade volume here, and there is an unreliable, erratic quality to Mars that could take things off the rails. The combination of these two measurements therefore increases the likelihood of price declines through the week. The Venus-Mars conjunction is exact on Sunday, so that could inflict damage on Monday's market. We can spot a passing Sun-Venus aspect on Tuesday and Wednesday that could inject some optimism in the equation. The late week period will center around the end of the forward motion of Venus on Friday and the commencement of its backward journey through sidereal Libra that lasts until November 18. It's worth noting that the last Venus retrograde cycle occurred at an important reversal in the market in March 2009. At that time, Venus began its retrograde cycle on March 7, just one day after the stock market reached its lowest point in the market meltdown that began in 2008. While these reversals in planetary direction do not always correlate with changes in market directions, they nonetheless increase the likelihood of such a shift in sentiment especially if coming after an established trend has been in a place for a while as we have now.

Friday also has the distinction of a Mercury-Saturn conjunction. As the planet of trading and commerce, Mercury's contacts with pessimistic Saturn often translate into selloffs as news of reduced economic activity may tilt the mood toward caution. Conjunctions are somewhat less negative than other aspects, however, so we will have to see how this plays out. But the fact that it is coming the same day as the Venus retrograde increases the potential for something significant to occur, either at the time or in hindsight.

"One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star." --G.K. Chesterton