Monday, August 12, 2013

Markets slip on taper talk; Venus (Shukra) enters sidereal Virgo

(11 August 2013)  Stocks receded last week as growing taper talk from Fed officials suggested that a reduction of QE bond buying could begin as soon as September.   In New York, the Dow lost a little more than 1% closing at 15,425.  Indian stocks fared worse, however, as major economic problems continued to mount.  The Sensex declined by 2% closing at 18,789.

US Stocks remain fairly buoyant there as the effects of various Jupiter aspects in August are likely to keep most global markets afloat a little while longer.  And yet the picture is complicated by the fact that negative sentiment is likely on the rise.   As I have mentioned previously, Saturn will soon conjoin its malefic brethren Rahu (North Lunar Node) in mid-September.   Thus the overall sentiment picture is a complex one marked by ever-shifting planetary energies, each with their own distinct influence.  If Jupiter's aspects to Pluto, Rahu and finally Uranus are serving to prop up the markets in August, the combination of Saturn and Rahu is simultaneously undermining sentiment and will likely coincide with some kind of market decline in the medium term.   Figuring out just how these respective influences will manifest at any given time is a difficult task since there are no fixed and perfectly knowable outcomes in astrology.  Planetary influences are only partially understood and therefore we must reserve a certain margin of error for our forecasts. 

The main planetary dynamic that describes the oscillation between optimism and pessimism is often seen through the relative strength of Jupiter and Saturn.  Jupiter represents optimism and hence is more likely to push markets higher when it forms aspects with other planets or through sign placement.  Conversely, Saturn presents caution and pessimism and is more often implicated in stagnant or declining markets when it is prominent through its aspects and sign placement. 

However, Jupiter and Saturn are only part of the story.  All the planets make some kind of contribution to the changing nature of collective sentiment.  Our attention this week focuses on the planet Venus, which is symbolically linked to women, art (beauty) and money.   In Vedic astrology, Venus is known as Sukra (Shukra) and its rulerships are the same as in Western astrology.   Venus is considered a positive and bullish planet and when it is prominent stocks usually rise.  When Venus is in a weakened state, however, it can cause problems as notions of money and value to be corrupted and come under threat.  As a result, a weakened Venus can mean that stocks become more vulnerable
Venus may well be weakened now since it entered the sign of sidereal Virgo on Sunday August 11th.  (N.B.  Western astrologers will miss this Venus-in-Virgo effect since they use the tropical zodiac.)  Venus is said to be weakened in Virgo since this is the sign of its debilitation.  Its normally favourable manifestations are denied or short-circuited and there can be problems in areas that it rules.  Since Venus rules money, this means that the Venus transit of Virgo can undermine bullish sentiment and increases the odds for declining prices.  Venus transits Virgo once a year and takes about four weeks to completely move through the sign.  Venus is scheduled to leave sidereal Virgo on September 6th. 

A quick retrospective analysis shows how the Venus transit of Virgo has correlated with some difficult times in the stock market recently.   In 2012, Venus transited Virgo from Oct 23 to Nov 17.   As the chart shows, this was a negative period for stocks as the market fell 7% through the course of this transit.  Interestingly, the market formed an important interim bottom on Friday Nov 16 -- just one day before Venus moved out of Virgo. 

In 2011, it was much the same story.  The market had started a corrective phase in earlier in the year but it continued to fall another 6% through the Venus transit of sidereal Virgo.   Venus transited Virgo from Sep 10, 2011 until Oct 4, 2011.   Incredibly, the major low for the year occurred on the same day that Venus exited Virgo and entered Libra -- October 4, 2011. 

In 2010, the Venus transit of Virgo was again closely correlated with declining stocks.  Venus transited Virgo from Aug 1, 2010 until Sep 1, 2010.  The markets had been quite weak all summer but stocks fell 6% during that one-month period.  Again, a major interim low occurred on the last day of the Venus transit of Virgo on September 1st.  On that day, Ben Bernanke dropped his first hint that the Fed was going to embark on quantitative easing (QE) and the markets surged 4%.  That was the day that Venus left bearish Virgo and entered bullish Libra.

In 2009, markets were recovering from the meltdown but they were still subject to periodic pullbacks.  Venus transited Virgo from Oct 10, 2010 to Nov 3, 2010.  During that time, the Dow lost 4%.  Again, the exit of Venus from Virgo in early November corresponded very closely to an interim low -- within just one day!  The low occurred on Nov 2.

To be sure, these are only four data points and do not suggest an inviolable rule. (Although it's worth pointing out that the same thing happened in 2008 amidst the meltdown.) There is a possibility of a seasonal artifact at work here since Venus always transits Virgo sometime between July and November and we know that stocks tend to do poorly in the autumn (e.g. 1929, 1987, 2008).  However, I would argue that this bearish seasonal bias is linked to the Venus in Virgo effect.  But even this limited survey suggests there is some correlation here that is noteworthy, especially given the exact lows on three consecutive Virgo exits.

One obvious implication of this Venus in Virgo transit is that it could undermine the otherwise positive Jupiter aspects and thus limit the upside in August.  Additionally, this year the transit of Venus through Virgo will be completed before the nasty Saturn-Rahu conjunction.  This complicates the overall sentiment picture somewhat since these sources of bearishness will not neatly overlap.  Perhaps it will mean that stocks will weaken and then rebound on Sept 6 as Venus leaves Virgo and then resume its decline with the Saturn-Rahu conjunction. 

This week we will get our first look at that problematic Venus influence.   I tend to think it won't be that bearish, however, as there is a nice Jupiter-Mercury aspect on Tuesday that could keep the game going a little longer.  And of course, Jupiter is still approaching its aspects with Rahu and Uranus next week so that is another offsetting influence to Venus.