Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stocks rise on US jobs report; Saturn turns retrograde on Tuesday

Barack Obama probably thanked his lucky stars on Friday as the latest employment report showed 243,000 new jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%. While some commentators suggested the drop in the rate was due to falling participation rates, markets nonetheless cheered the news. Stocks extended their winning streak as the indexes rose more than 2% as the Dow has risen to a stone's throw from its high of May 2011. The Dow closed at 12,862 while the S&P 500 finished at 1344. In Mumbai, Indian stocks were also bullish as positive earnings reports pushed the Sensex to 17,604 and the Nifty to 5325.

I thought we might have seen more downside from the midweek Venus-Mars aspect but Jupiter is still very much in control at the moment. While there was some weakness early in the week ahead of this aspect, investors continued to believe the Fed-induced recovery story and aggressively bought the dips. As expected, Friday was higher as Venus entered sidereal Pisces.

So far we have yet to see much downside from those perennial malefics, Mars and Saturn. Mars turned retrograde last week to little effect, while Saturn reversing its direction this week on Tuesday February 7. It seems somewhat unlikely that stocks can shrug off this influence and continue higher. And yet, so far in 2012 the markets have done just that as those series of Jupiter aspects with Uranus, Neptune, Chiron, and eventually Pluto may generate optimism that lasts into March. Saturn's retrograde motion could interrupt this positive trend, although it seems unlikely to completely reverse it.

The bullish view holds that in an election year the government and the Fed will do everything they can to pump up the economy and the stock market. As the old saying goes, "don't fight the Fed". According to this line of thinking, as long as it is engaging in mass injections of monetary stimulus in the form of zero interest rates, bond buy backs, and Dollar-Euro swaps with the European Central Bank, the market will stay inflated. It's quite a sensible view and no doubt one that informs all those investors that have been buying stocks since the lows last October. The Fed has got their back, the thinking goes, so there is very little actual downside risk.

Unfortunately, the astrological view does not offer much support to this bullish outlook. While this current series of Jupiter aspects could easily pump up the market for the next month or two, there seems to be a shortage of bullish Jupiter aspects after March 13. This would tend to suggest that further upward momentum will be harder to come by after that date. Moreover, the first of three exact Uranus-Pluto aspects is due in June. This is a fairly rare aspect between these two distant planets which could signal another period of economic and political instability. This aspect will last for a period of 3-4 years and could mark this decade as a time of dislocation, disintegration and reorganization.

This week all eyes are on Saturn as it turns retrograde before the start of trading on Tuesday in the US. At that time, the Sun will conjoin Mercury. This is often a bullish combination so it is somewhat unclear how this may manifest with the upgraded Saturn influence. Some downside is possible here. Later in the week, Mercury approaches a tense aspect with Mars so that is another potential trouble spot. By the end of the week, Venus will form a nice conjunction with Uranus while in alignment with Jupiter so this could produce some gains.