Monday, August 31, 2015

Markets recover after China cuts rates

(31 August 2015) Stock markets recovered last week after Monday's scary plunge.  The Chinese government intervened in the markets once again and this time it actually seemed to work as the interest rate cut and looser bank capital requirements restored business confidence.  The Dow briefly fell below 16,000 early in the week and ended at 16,540.  India's BSE-Sensex traded below 26,000 for the first time since summer 2014 and finished at 26,283.  In last week's financial forecast, I suggested some possibility of a midweek recovery on the Sun-Jupiter conjunction.  This appeared to broadly coincide with the rebound after Monday's decline.  But I had been fairly skeptical about the week overall given the Mercury-Rahu influence and its possible connection with Saturn.  In other words, stocks ended somewhat stronger than I had expected.

So is the worst over?  I doubt it.   The strong Saturn influence is still going to shape investor sentiment in the weeks to come.  This is likely to translate into more market volatility at least through September and possibly October when Saturn aligns most closely with Ketu (South Lunar Node).  These general trends in stocks can also be seen through the horoscope of the major indexes.  The horoscope of the German Stock Exchange Index, the DAX, (launched 1 July 1988) reflects the broad trends in both European and global stocks this year. 

The DAX hit its high in the spring when Jupiter was in alignment with Uranus.  Most importantly, this favourable aspect activated the Ascendant on the DAX horoscope at 25 Cancer.  The DAX hit an all-time high in April while Jupiter was still six degrees from a conjunction with the Ascendant but remained mostly buoyant as Jupiter came closer to the Ascendant.  As a rule, any Jupiter influence to a chart Ascendant will usually result in positive outcomes.  Where stock markets are concerned, this means that stocks generally rise.  As Jupiter moves away from the Ascendant, the optimism tends to fade and other influences become more salient. 

The DAX has been in a downtrend since the spring and that reflects the growing influence of Saturn.  The retrograde cycle of Saturn has seen the ringed planet move into close alignments with Pluto, Jupiter and now Ketu (South Lunar Node).  I have previously noted how this array of Saturn influences would likely depress global stock markets over the summer.  But that is only half the picture.  Given the probabilistic nature of astrology, outcomes are best seen only through confirmation from several different sources. In financial astrology, that means seeing how transit alignments may be activating the natal charts of the relevant stock exchange, the stock exchange index, commodity, or indeed individual stock.  

Saturn stationed retrograde at 10 Scorpio back in March and then stationed direct in late July at 4 Scorpio.  As we can see, this backwards movement of Saturn formed a tighter opposition to the natal Jupiter in the DAX chart at 2 Taurus.  Saturn aspects are usually indicative of growing pessimism and the tightening of this aspect has nicely correlated with falling stock prices. Of course, prices have continued to fall into August after the Saturn-to-Jupiter aspect began to separate.  Why?

The short answer is that while Saturn is now separating from Jupiter, it is now moving towards a tighter 3rd house (sextile) aspect with the natal Moon at 6 Capricorn.  The transiting nodes are also scheduled to form an exact alignment with this natal Moon in November.  While this doesn't necessarily mean that stocks will decline between now and November, it does mean that declines are more likely than they would otherwise be.  And we can also suggest that risk of declines are highest when both Saturn and the Nodes are simultaneously aligning to the Moon at 6 Capricorn in September.  

This week could see some fallout from Monday's Venus-Mars conjunction.  At the time of writing (Monday afternoon, EDT), US stocks are lower after most other global markets also suffered modest losses to start the week. We could see further downside from this conjunction although it probably won't pack that much of a punch.  The week could well bring some gains as Mercury separates from the Node and aligns with Neptune.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stocks finally succumb to Saturn

(23 August 2015)  Stock markets tanked last week as investors began to seriously ponder the possibility of a full-blown recession in China.  US stocks experienced their biggest weekly decline since 2011 with the Dow falling more than 5% to 16,459.  Most global markets shared in the near-panic although India lost a more modest 3% on the week with the BSE Sensex finishing at 27,366.  In last week's market forecast, I thought the late week could be problematic on the Sun-Saturn square aspect.  This definitely was the case, although I did not fully expect a decline of this magnitude.  As expected, we did see some early week gains although they proved to be very fleeting.

As I have noted previously, the summer of 2015 was bound to be difficult for most markets due to an unusual series of Saturn aspects.  These aspects began in June with the approach of the Saturn-Pluto alignment, and continued with the Saturn-Jupiter square in late July and then the Saturn-Ketu (South Node) aspect in September.  Most stock markets had held up surprisingly well through July's Saturn-Jupiter square with comparatively few manifestations of Saturn's typically pessimistic effects.  However, with last week's decline, we may finally be seeing the effects of these Saturn transits hit home. 

The negative effects of these transits are also highlighted in the horoscope of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).  As I noted back in May, the Solar Return chart for the NYSE suggested a negative performance for 2015 and 2016 because of the close Sun-Saturn aspect.   I reiterated this view in July as Saturn completed its retrograde cycle at 4 Scorpio and began moving forward once again.  In so doing, it would tightly oppose the Sun at 6 Taurus in the NYSE chart.  Moreover, the aspect from Rahu to the Sun would also be very close in the late summer period and could indicate an extended period of declining markets.  I therefore suggested that August-September was more vulnerable to declines because of this combined effect of the Saturn and Rahu transits to the Sun of the NYSE. 

It's still early days yet, but we can see that Saturn and Rahu will tighten their aspect to the Sun in the weeks ahead.  This double malefic aspect appears to be tightest in mid to late September.  So does this mean the market has further to fall?  Probably it does, but as a caveat, we should note that maximum effects do not always coincide with the closest transit angle.  While there is usually a correlation between angular proximity and maximum market effects, there are exceptions.  In the current circumstance, however, I think the overall picture suggests more declines ahead.

This week will feature a Sun-Jupiter conjunction on Tuesday and Wednesday.  This is normally a bullish pairing although it is unclear how strong it will be in this environment.  Mercury conjoins Rahu and aligns with Saturn this week so that could well offset some or all of the possible uplifting effects of Sun-Jupiter.  The Moon's opposition to the approaching Venus-Mars conjunction on Thursday is another possible source of agitation.  The Venus-Mars conjunction becomes exact on 1st September.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The link between China's devaluation and the Tianjin explosion

(16 August 2015)  Last week saw an unusual coincidence of events in China.  On Tuesday, China's central bank surprised global financial markets and devalued its currency.  On Wednesday, there was a huge industrial explosion in the port city of Tianjin that killed over a hundred people.  While these two events were unrelated in fact, they do have common astrological origins due to afflictions in the horoscope of China. Specifically, I would say they are the result of close aspects to the Ascendant in this chart.

First, we can see this devaluation and its fallout in the horoscope of China.  Using the October 1, 1949 chart, the Ascendant (8 Capricorn) suffers a double affliction from the transits of malefic Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Mars.  Rahu is currently stationing on 7 Virgo and therefore it casts a near-exact 120 degree aspect to the Ascendant.  Last Tuesday, Mars was situated at 7 Cancer -- almost exactly opposite the Ascendant.  So why would an affliction to the Ascendant, which symbolizes "the body" or nation as a whole, correspond with a currency devaluation? 

Currencies are certainly one barometer of a nation's health and so this affliction was a kind of symbolic injury that China may have suffered, partially as a result of its slowing economy.  A falling currency typifies a weaker economy and hence a weaker country.  Of course, the Rahu and Mars transits to the Ascendant could have corresponded with any number of difficult events that would disrupt the status quo (Rahu) and occur suddenly (Mars). 

Indeed, the massive explosion in the port city of Tianjin on Wednesday (the day after the devaluation) was likely related to this same alignment of Rahu and Mars which was hitting the Ascendant as well as the Moon, which is less than two degrees off the Ascendant.  At the time of the blast, Rahu has barely moved at all and Mars had only moved half of a degree.  Mars was joined by the Moon in Cancer for an extra impact on the Ascendant.  We can say that the Rahu and Mars transits therefore played a role in the near-simultaneous devaluation and explosion as both could be seen as sudden events that caused injury to the symbolic body of the country.

But the damage to the economic life of the country was also related to the current position of Saturn in the 11th house of gains and rewards.  The 11th house is one of the money houses in astrology, and in the horoscope of a country, it is closed related to general economic health.  Saturn (4 Scorpio) had recently stationed direct two weeks ago and was therefore sitting very close to the cusp of the 11th house (i.e. 8 Scorpio) for an extended time.  We should also note that Saturn is also casting its full strength 3rd house aspect to the Ascendant.  This is one of the main reasons why its economy is suffering in a more manifest way in recent months.  Saturn has been transiting in the first third of Scorpio since late 2014.   The Rahu and Mars transits to the Ascendant therefore were acting as co-factors for this longer term negative Saturn energy.

Now the question is whether China is done with its devaluation.  Government officials say that have no other moves planned but it is still possible that new circumstances may warrant additional adjustments.   Saturn will be hovering over that sensitive area in the 11th house for several more weeks so there is still the likelihood of more economic bad news for China.  It is unclear if Saturn's contracting effect will take the form of further currency moves, however.  It is possible that Saturn's transit may simply produce more weak economic data.  That said, I would still keep an eye on the Mars-Venus conjunction in the first week of September as a possible time window when more moves could occur.  The problem here is that Mars will conjoin natal Mars and Pluto at that time, as well as align with Ketu.  This is likely to correspond with sudden and unwanted events which could well be associated with a slowing economy.  We can also see that on September 7th, the Sun will conjoin with natal Saturn at 20 Leo.  Saturn rules the 2nd house of wealth so that may be another clue that the economy and the currency may be in focus at that time.  China may be vulnerable to economic troubles for some time to come as Saturn is due to leave the 11th house and Scorpio in early 2017. 

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stocks were mixed last week as global markets reacted to China's devaluation.  US markets managed to eke out a modest gain as the Dow finished at 17,477 while India's Sensex drifted lower closing at 28,067.  In last week's forecast, I thought we would likely see some declines in the first half of the week on the Mars-Rahu aspect and the Mercury-Neptune opposition.  This was pretty much the case as markets reacted to the devaluation on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The late week was more positive as expected on the Sun-Uranus aspect and the Venus sidereal sign change.

This week looks somewhat more positive as Jupiter and Rahu form a close alignment for several days and Mercury aligns with Venus and Uranus in the middle of the week.  Both of these patterns look positive so gains in stocks and commodities like oil and gold are more likely.  The late week is more problematic perhaps as the Sun comes under the square aspect of Saturn.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Running the Saturnian gauntlet: China's woes and the world economy

(9 August 2015)  The world's economic engine is showing more signs of running out of gas. The latest Chinese economic data revealed a declining manufacturing output for the third straight month.  The Caixin PMI figure is now below the 50 threshold thus indicating economic contraction. With the Chinese government increasingly desperate to support the plunging stock market by any means necessary, there is more evidence that all is not right in the Middle Kingdom.  As China slows, the risk of a global recession rises.

Back in my spring stock market forecast, I wondered what changes might lie ahead given the rising influence of Saturn during the summer months.  Saturn is a malefic planet that is usually front and center in tense or difficult situations where our wishes are denied and lessons are only leaned the hard way.  I thought that the last aspect of Jupiter (with Uranus and then Venus) in late June might mark the end of a relatively stable period in the world.  Without any prominent Jupiter aspects in the mix for a while, bearish Saturn would be free to call the shots as it formed a series of aspects throughout the next three months.  I thought stock markets could decline around the world.

Indeed, the Chinese stock market began its sudden crash in mid-June just a week before the culmination of the last Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  The approach of the Saturn station in the early degrees of Scorpio was a key additional factor given its difficult position in the natal chart of the Index of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSEC) as it squared the Mars and Venus in the 1st house of that chart.

The first of the summer gauntlet aspects was Saturn's 45-degree angle with Pluto throughout July and into August.  While this is not a full-strength aspect, it does manifest as a conjunction in the 8th divisional chart and therein lies its damaging potential.  Saturn stationed on August 2nd while forming an exact square aspect with Jupiter and Venus and this is only now slowly separating.  The final Saturn aspect in this series occurs in mid-September when it aligns in a 120 degree aspect with Ketu, the South Lunar Node.

While Chinese stocks have fallen sharply, we have seen most global stock markets move only modestly lower since the late-June period.  To be honest, I thought we would have seen more declines since that time.  The Greece debt crisis seemed to fulfill the promise of the rising influence of Saturn since the ringed planet symbolizes debt and loss.  While there was acute suffering and loss in Greece, a deal got done nonetheless and the Grexit abyss scenario was averted yet again.  Some markets went down, but not by very much.

Now that the Saturn-Jupiter square has come and gone, we can ask what's next as Saturn slowly aligns with Ketu, the South Lunar Node in September.  The exact alignment is still 40 days away so it is possible that stocks could rise between now and then.  But I would think that even if there is a renewed sense of optimism -- especially around the Sun-Jupiter conjunction on August 26th -- it is unlikely to turn the Saturnian tide in a significant sense.  The final Saturnian gauntlet in September is probably the most challenging of the three major aspects this summer in any event.  We shall soon learn if the correlation between Saturn and falling markets holds up again.  Saturn tends to be bearish, of course, as it heightens caution, although this doesn't apply to everyone equally.  But I would argue that such Saturn aspects do coincide with rising pessimism across an aggregate comprised of many individuals.  That is the point, after all, of studying financial markets from an astrological perspective.

Certainly, I find financial markets fascinating in their own right given the paramount importance of economics in shaping our world above any other cultural or political influence. But for astrologers, financial markets offer the unvarnished raw data of the effects of planetary transits.  Stock markets are the best barometers of collective human sentiment we have and therefore they are the clearest human manifestation of the effects of transits.  It is not possible to say what the effect of the Saturn-Jupiter square will be on humanity as a whole in some abstract sense.  How can you prove that?  As we know all too well, astrology is notoriously weak when it comes to proofs. Many astrologers try to write about these planetary alignments as if their effects are the same on everyone.  But they are not!  Each person will experience a transit differently because they have unique natal charts.  Collectively, however, we can say that transits may have a more measurable effect through financial markets where each individual participant is allowed to express their own interests whether it be influenced by Jupiterian optimism, Saturnian pessimism and everything else in between.

Weekly Financial Market Update

Stocks generally declined last week as Saturn squared both Venus and Jupiter.  US stocks fell more than 1% with the Dow closing at 17,373.  Indian markets fared better, however, as the Sensex ended the week up modestly at 28,236.  This negative outcome was in keeping with my overall expectations which I elaborated in greater detail in my weekly subscriber newsletter.  The late week selling also seemed to fit fairly well with the Mars-Saturn alignment. 

This week looks divided between the early week Mars-Ketu aspect and the late week Sun-Uranus alignment.  Mars and Ketu (South Lunar Node) are both malefic planets and their alignments tend to be negative for stocks.  That may well be the case here given the other influences in the air.  Mercury also opposes Neptune on Wednesday so that is another problematic transit.  But the Sun will align with Uranus later in the week just as bullish Venus changes signs.  It is difficult to see how these late week patterns will produce anything other than gains.