Saturday, February 11, 2012

Greek doubts jeopardize rally; Saturn continues retrograde cycle

Once again Greece has moved to the front lines of the battle over European debt crisis. After coming to an agreement which will entitle Greece to receive another 115 billion Euros in aid in order to pay its bills due in March, the whole thing seems to have hit a few snags. Against a backdrop of a general strike, mass protests and rioting, some members of the Greek cabinet have resigned and the austerity plan has yet to pass Parliament. To matter worse more problematic, some EU officials are now saying that they need to see proof that austerity cuts are actually being implemented as promised before they release the funds.

All this renewed uncertainty has started to take its toll on the financial markets as Friday's session saw across the board losses after previously posting modest gains. US Stocks ended flat on the week with the Dow closing at 12,801 and the S&P 500 at 1342. Indian markets were somewhat stronger as the main indices rose 1% with the Sensex ending the week at 17,748 and the Nifty at 5381. Gold was also mostly flat. I had been fairly non-committal about last week because there was a real mix of influences at work. Of course, the key was Saturn's retrograde cycle which began last Tuesday. While normally a negative influence, it needn't manifest immediately. Since Saturn is the planet most closely associated with issues of debt and austerity, it was quite intriguing to see the re-emergence of the Greece problem during the same week that Saturn stationed and began its four-month long backward journey through the sky. Is Friday's decline just another small pullback or the start of a larger market decline?

As I have noted previously, Jupiter still has its aspect with Pluto in mid-March before it loses some power and recedes into the background. Such Jupiter aspects are usually bullish and have been a key reason why markets rallied strongly since making their lows in early October. But Saturn has the capacity to interrupt Jupiter's liquidity party, although to be honest, I thought we might have seen more evidence of Saturn's pessimism by now. Saturn's retrograde stations can be potential turning points in the market but like most things in life, there are no guarantees. Moreover, this Saturn station occurs in an environment of very strong Jupiter aspects which have generated considerable faith in future growth.

This week begins with a possible trigger of the Saturn retrograde cycle as Mercury forms an alignment with Neptune and Saturn on Monday. On paper, this looks bearish and increases the probability of some kind of pullback early in the week. But these multiple planets alignments can sometimes produce surprising effects. The midweek looks more positive as Mercury aspects Jupiter while Venus is in aspect with Pluto. This could produce a large gain at some point. The end of the week features a Venus-Rahu/NN aspect just as the Sun approaches its conjunction with Neptune. This looks volatile and could increase the size of the move, although the direction seems less clear to me. While there are some good astro arguments for a further pullback this week as Saturn finally gets activated by passing transits, it's a lot less categorical than I would like. And the short term bullish transits should also not be ignored so I also wouldn't be surprised if the market actually ended higher.