Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stocks higher on Fed easing; Venus-Mars this week

As the old song goes, "hurts so good". Fed Chair Ben Bernanke admitted that the US economy was sufficiently weak and listless that additional stimulative measures may be necessary. He extended the zero interest rate policy for another year to 2014 and promised to deliver another round of "quantitative easing" if the economy showed any signs of further deterioration. As bleak as his message was, financial markets largely cheered Bernanke's pledge to pump up the system with whatever liquidity was required. These days bad news for the economy can paradoxically be good news for the markets since it means money will continue to be printed as long as inflation remains within the target range of 2%. For the short term, liquidity trumps bad economic fundamentals. In New York, stocks inched higher with the Dow closing at 12,660 and the S&P 500 at 1316. Indian stocks were more positive as the RBI offered a similarly accommodative policy decision and eased the banking reserve ratio by 50 basis points. The indices rose by 3% with the Sensex closing at 17,233 and the Nifty at 5204.

I thought we might have seen more excitement from last week's Mars retrograde station on Monday/Tuesday but it seemed whatever negative energy there was from this measurement manifested simply as more slow growth economic forecasts. For the moment, this retrograde has been a bit of a non-event, although as I noted, they rarely operate like clockwork. I also pointed out the bullish potential of the midweek Moon-Venus conjunction which appeared to coincide with the upside that stemmed from the Bernanke FOMC statement.

Jupiter is still very prominent here as it remains in close aspect with Uranus. While it is gradually weakening at the moment, it is due to form another positive aspect with Pluto in March. Whether that translates into higher highs remains to be seen. With Saturn turning retrograde on February 7, there is a good astrological argument for some kind of down move before Jupiter's bullishness returns when it combines with Pluto.

This week will be an interesting test of the Mars retrograde cycle as Venus opposes Mars on Tuesday and Wednesday. This pairing is usually bearish in its short term effects. With Mars extra-powerful here from its slow, backwards motion in the sky, there is a chance that the move could be somewhat larger than it otherwise would be. Monday's Moon-Jupiter conjunction is more positive so that may temporarily boost sentiment. Venus enters sidereal Pisces on Friday so that is another potentially positive indication. Nonetheless, I would expect the difficult Venus-Mars aspect to dominate the proceedings this week.