Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 starts positively; Venus vs. Saturn this week

2012 started off on a positive note as stock markets climbed on more signs of global growth in China and the US. Friday's US jobs report showed gains of 200,000, although there were a number of caveats attached to this larger than expected number. In New York, stocks posted a 2% gain as the Dow closed at 12,359 while the S&P 500 finished at 1277. Indian stocks similarly put in a winning week with the closing almost 2% higher at 15,867 and the Nifty at 4754. While I thought we would see some early week upside on Mercury's entry into Sagittarius, the extent of the rise was somewhat surprising. As expected, the late week period was less positive as the Sun-Rahu aspect put a damper on enthusiasm.

The reaction to Friday's jobs number underlined the caution approach of financial markets these days. While the number was larger than expected, the US market actually declined modestly. Part of the reason for this was that the job growth was a little deceptive owing to a high number of temporary seasonal jobs. 200K is good, but it seems less likely to be duplicated when January's report comes out. The gains for the week also came despite more worrying signs coming out of Europe. With unemployment rising sharply (e.g. it is now 22% in Spain), it is unclear how the economy will begin to grow again. While stock traders appeared to have a fresh supply of rose-coloured glasses at the ready for 2012, the bond market was taking a less sanguine view of things as EU bond yields continued to inch higher. Higher yields means higher borrowing costs which will ultimately force more austerity and slower growth. Definitely not a recipe for recovery. Private European banks have become so fearful of lending to each other that they are choosing to forgo the higher interest rate and park their money at the ECB instead.

Perhaps its only fitting that such a mixed and convoluted financial situation would occur at a time when the planets are offering signs of both hope and fear. Bearish Saturn is still very much front and center as it opposes Jupiter. Its role in the larger alignment with Jupiter and Uranus over the past several weeks is one important reason that stocks have been limping along. While some markets have melted higher, volume has been low and conviction has been lacking. At the same time, bullish Jupiter is in a very close and powerful aspect with speculative Uranus. This has been a crucial reservoir of hope in the economy and one reason why some stock market investors have not hit the panic button. Although not yet robust, the signs of economic growth are there. And even if growth underwhelms, there is still the Fed which can be relied upon to inject another dose of its magical quantitative easing to goose the market higher. Neptune has now moved into this alignment but will be closer to Saturn over the next month or so. This could easily tilt the whole equation more clearly towards the negative. To make things even more ripe, Mars is due to turn retrograde on January 23.

This week is particularly interesting because of the high number of close aspects in play. Usually this suggests larger than normal gains or losses. Cautious Saturn is well represented as it makes its closest aspect with Jupiter. At the same time, it forms a 45 degree aspect with nefarious Rahu. These are both important sources of pessimism that should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, Jupiter is still just a few arc minutes away from its bullish aspect with Uranus so that might produce some significant upward movement along the way. The short term influences are no less potent. On Monday, bullish Venus enters sidereal Aquarius. Whenever Venus changes signs it often correlates with higher prices. The midweek has perhaps fewer distinguishing aspects so those medium term (negative) Saturn influences may have more opportunity to express themselves. The late week period is the real puzzle, however. Thursday and Friday sees a remarkable Venus-Neptune-Saturn alignment, a Mercury-Pluto conjunction and a Sun-Mars aspect. The concentration of these aspects suggests a larger than normal move is more likely here. But which direction? Mercury's affliction by Pluto looks negative as does the Sun-Mars aspect, but the Venus alignment has the potential to flip things into the plus column.