Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gold tumbles $22 on possible June rate hike

. (24 May 2016) The price of gold tumbled today as investors considered the possibility of an early Fed rate hike in June following strong housing data.  Higher interest rates boost the US Dollar and thereby make gold less attractive as an asset.  Higher interest rates are believed to reduce inflationary pressures and this is bad news for gold since it is seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.  Gold fell almost 2% today closing at $1227. 

This sharp decline in gold was in keeping with the basic principles of financial astrology.  Financial astrology holds that assets rise or fall in value according to specific alignments of the planets.  Benefic planets like Venus, Mercury and Jupiter are said to coincide with gains while malefic planets like Saturn, Mars and the Nodes (Rahu and Ketu) tend to correlate with declines. 

I have observed that gold prices tend to vary according to the geometric situation of the planets Venus, Jupiter and the Sun.  When all three of these planets are strong by transit and without affliction from malefic planets, gold will tend to rise in value.  When malefics are more closely aspecting one, two or all three of these key planets, gold tends to struggle.  Saturn also tends to depress prices when it forms close alignments with slowing moving planets such as the Nodes (Rahu/Ketu) and the Outers.  The key natal charts for gold also play a role, of course, but the transits are an important reference point for understanding gold price fluctuations.

Today, Venus (6 Taurus) was closely opposed by Mars (7 Taurus).   The Sun (9 Taurus) had also just recently passed an exact opposition with Mars late last week which had also coincided with a more modest decline. 

Jupiter (19 Leo) forms a close 90 degree square aspect with Saturn (19 Scorpio) this week.  Since both planets move slowly (just a few minutes of arc per day), this 90 degree angle is in place for most of this week.   Therefore, we can see that all three key planetary significators for gold (Sun, Venus, Jupiter) were aligned with malefic planets this week.  This is one very important reason why I predicted a price decline for gold in this week's MVA Investor Newsletter.   With all three planets involved, I suggested a decline was a higher probability outcome at this time.

I have been fairly bearish on gold since March when Jupiter and Rahu (North Lunar Node) aligned with some key planets in the 1919 gold natal horoscope.  While gold has managed to hold above the key $1200 level since that time, it seems more vulnerable to declines going forward as Saturn becomes more dominant in the coming weeks and months.  The next acid test for gold may come next week on June 2nd and 3rd when both Venus and the Sun oppose Saturn and square Jupiter.  The Jupiter influence makes this a more complex alignment with less certain outcomes.  However, the presence of Saturn would seem to be quite bearish. 

Weekly Market Forecast

After being mostly flat last week, US stocks have moved somewhat higher in the early week here.  The Dow rose more than 1% today closing at 17,706.  India's Sensex slipped a bit last week but seems to have found its footing thus far this week closing modestly higher at 25,305 in the Tuesday session.  In last week's market forecast, I thought that further gains were unlikely last week as the late week Sun-Mars opposition was likely to coincide with declines.  This was more or less the case as stocks fell after rising in the early going. 

The rest of this week looks somewhat less positive.  In particular, Friday's Moon-Saturn aspect could coincide with some pessimism which may undermine any preceding gains.  While a mixed week is possible, the Saturn-Jupiter square aspect argues for caution and prudence.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mars and the ghost of 1937: the NYSE Solar Return chart

(17 May 2016) Today is a day of special significance in financial astrology as the New York Stock Exchange turns 224 years old.  The NYSE was founded on May 17, 1792, most likely around 10 a.m., although the exact time of its origin is a matter of some debate.  The birthday of the world's biggest and most venerable stock exchange provides a valuable window on the financial outlook for next 12 months. According to the basic principles of astrology, the return of the Sun to its position at the time of birth is said to contain clues for what may happen in the coming year.  This idea holds true for both individuals and collective entities such as the NYSE.  It is also worth noting that due to the procession of the equinoxes, the Sun does not actually return to its natal position of 6 degrees of sidereal Taurus until May 20th. 

The financial significance of the Solar Return or Vashphal chart emerges when it is overlaid with the natal chart.  Significant planetary placements and alignments determine if gains or losses are more likely in the coming year by the next birthday on 17 May 2017.  The core principle of financial astrology is that if malefic planets like Mars and Saturn form closer alignments then declines are more likely whereas benefic planet alignments will tend to produce gains.  Precedence is usually granted to the Moon, Sun and Ascendant in this regard so that the planetary alignments involving these points will have a larger influence on the final outcome.

At the time of last year's NYSE birthday, I suggested that US stocks were likely to decline in the subsequent 12 months since Saturn was very closely aligned with the Sun by 90-degree square aspect.

The bottom line here is that Saturn-Sun aspects that occur near the Solar Return chart on May 17th (or rather the 21st thanks to the precession of the equinoxes) will tend to have a depressing effect on the stock market.  While it is only one factor, I would think that it could well outweigh other positive factors in the chart.  This is another indication that stocks are likely to suffer a decline over the coming 12 months.

Stocks have indeed declined in the intervening 12-month period since May 17, 2015.  The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average has only fallen 3% since that time, although the broader and arguably more representative NYSE Composite Index is down 8% since last May.  Interestingly, the NYSE Composite peaked that very month and has been trending lower ever since, albeit with much deeper declines in August of last year and January-February this year.  It looks like Saturn had the final say there.

This year's Solar Return (SR) chart looks challenging again.  Like last year's chart, however, there are some positive alignments.  Venus (1 Taurus) is conjunct natal Mercury (2 Taurus).  This is quite a good pairing as both planets are considered benefic.  But Venus and Mercury tend to be lesser factors in shaping the overall outcome.  Since we have many planets across two charts, the number of possible aspects and alignments quickly multiply and become unwieldy for analytical purposes.  In my experience, alignments involving the Sun and Moon may take precedence.  We should omit consideration of the Ascendant here since the exact birth time of the NYSE is uncertain. 

Uranus (28 Pisces) is exactly conjunct the Moon in this year's SR chart.  Uranus often coincides with intensity, unpredictability and sudden changes.  This Uranus-Moon conjunction suggests this coming year will feature a significant amount of big moves in the markets -- even in both directions -- as the Uranus influence is actually neutral. By itself, it is not necessarily correlated with gains or declines.  The Uranus influence here does suggest that  the stock market may be in the news more than usual. 

This theme of unpredictability and even instability is echoed in the SR chart as the Moon (27 Libra) is closely aspected by Ketu (25 Aquarius).  Ketu has a similar effect as Uranus in that it disrupts the status quo and undermines fixed structures. 

The more difficult alignment here is that retrograde Mars (8 Scorpio) is in a close opposition aspect with the Sun (6 Taurus).  This is a negative influence which may well cast the deciding planetary vote for this chart.  True, we don't know if there may be offsetting positive influences on the Ascendant (e.g. a Jupiter conjunction).  But based on this Solar Return chart, I would the US stock market is likely to decline over the next 12 months.  Given the global dominance of the NYSE, this augurs poorly for most world stock markets also. 

The last time Mars was in a similar location in Scorpio opposite the Sun at the time of the May 17th Solar Return was in 1937.  Mars was also retrograde at 5 degrees of Scorpio that year on May 20th -- including the three-day correction for procession.  1937 is a well-known year in stock market history since it marked the first major bear market since the Depression in the early 1930s.  The markets had bottomed in 1932 and had been recovering fairly well for several years. 

But that all changed in 1937 as stocks peaked in February and then fell through the rest of the year.  In May 1937, the Dow stood at 175 and would eventually bottom in March 1938 near 100.  By May 1938 at the time of the next NYSE Solar Return, it had only slightly recovered to 110.  The stock market had declined 35% during that May-to-May SR period.  While we could make an argument for the importance of other factors in that 1937 SR chart, the Mars placement does stand out as the most obviously bearish. 

History may not necessarily repeat itself during this next SR but the placement of Mars just a few degrees away from its fateful placement in May 1937 is a possible warning of increased risk of declines.

Weekly Market Forecast

After slipping a bit last week, stocks recovered their footing Monday.  The Dow finished at 17,710 while India's Sensex posted a modest gain to move above 25,600. It is up again in early trading in the Tuesday session.  In last week's market forecast, I had expected fairly choppy trading given the mix of aspects through last week.   I thought we might have seen a little more late week upside last week although those gains appear to have manifested early this week so far. 

As the Sun enters Taurus this week and therefore sets up its opposition to Mars (!) and eventually Saturn, I would be surprised if stocks rose much further this week.  The late week looks more negative perhaps as the Sun-Mars opposition is closest at that time.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Apple in trouble after iPhone sales miss

(10 May 2016) It's tough times for Apple and its CEO Tim Cook.  Its most recent earnings report showed the first quarterly decline of iPhone sales in its history.   The disappointment in this iconic company persuaded many investors to bail out of the stock as prices touched new 52-week lows of $93. It had been trading as high as $130 in mid-2015.  A few days later, Tim Cook gave an exclusive interview to CNBC's cheerleader Jim Cramer in an effort to bolster interest in Apple's supposedly bright future.  However, critics saw the interview as a desperate PR move in the wake of the earnings failure and plunging stock price.

A quick look at the horoscope and we can see why Apple's stock price is falling these days.  The transit chart for April 27th, the day the 1st quarter results were released which sent the share price down by 10%, show Mars and Saturn in the 11th house of gains. Since both of these planets are natural malefics, this is bad for a company's prospects.  Mars (14 Scorpio) is very close to Mercury (16 Scorpio) there and highlights the late April period specifically as problematic for the share price.  Also, transiting Mars comes under the near exact 3rd house aspect of Saturn (15 Virgo).   This is the last thing an investor would want to see on the day that quarterly earnings are released since Saturn is a quintessential bearish influence.

Both Saturn and Mars come under the trine 5th house aspect of Rahu (18 Cancer).  Although neither are particularly tight aspects, they are unhelpful.  Mars is now retrograding away from this Rahu influence but Saturn is backing right into it in the coming weeks.  This should be another negative for the share prices that argues against any quick recovery for the stock.

Saturn will continue its retrograde station into July and August when it stations direct at 15 Scorpio.  This will form an exact alignment with natal Saturn (15 Virgo) by 3rd house aspect.  Moreover, it will conjoin natal Mercury (16 Scorpio) and exert more pressure on share price.  It is very bearish and suggests Apple will tumble further by the summer.

We can see other afflictions. Transiting Pluto (23 Sagittarius) is hovering around natal Mars (22 Sagittarius) for much of 2016 and may well create more problems for Apple's share price in the months ahead.

Dasha Periods

Looking at the dasha periods, we can see that Apple is now in the Jupiter-Moon period.  From my experience, it is the minor period which exercises a greater influence on the ups and downs in prices.  The stock price will tend to rise in benefic periods and fall in malefic periods.  From its natural qualities, one would think the Moon period would be bullish for Apple since the the Moon is a benefic planet.  However, the Moon is conjunct Ketu in the 1st house.  Ketu is usually a negative influence.  Also, the sign ruled by the Moon is Cancer and it is tenanted by Rahu, another malefic planet.  Therefore, the Jupiter-Moon period is less likely to see prices rise and we should not be surprised that Apple share prices have fallen since the start of the Jupiter-Moon period in August 2015.  Since the Moon minor period lasts until December 2016, Apple's share price is vulnerable to more declines. 

This negative dasha outlook is confirmed by the transit influences outlined above.  Taken together, we can say that 2016 looks very challenging for the tech giant.  Interestingly, the technical outlook also looks bearish as the current price of $93 is sitting on animportant support level.  A break below this level would likely indicate much more downside. 

The preceding dasha periods also roughly fit the price movements.  The preceding Jupiter-Sun period saw Apple hit its all-time high of $130 in 2015.  The Sun is placed in the 11th house of gains -- a very apt placement for a share rise.  However, the conjunction with Neptune offers a warning: Neptune is associated with ideals and illusions that are often unsustainable.   Apple peaked in mid-2015 and then fell back down towards $100 so the net outcome of the Sun minor period was essentially neutral.  The stock price didn't go anywhere.

By contrast, the previous Jupiter-Venus period was more positive as the price rose from about $70 at the start of the period to about $110 at the end of the period.  Venus is a benefic planet by nature and it is also well-placed in the natal chart since it is conjunct Uranus and the 10th house cusp (or "Mc").

And before the Jupiter-Venus period was the Jupiter-Ketu period.  Ketu is a malefic planet, of course, but here it is well-placed.  It is important to take note of the changeable nature of the Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu. While they afflict other planets they conjoin, they are themselves improved by these conjunctions.  That is the case here with Ketu as its potential is boosted through its conjunction with the Moon.  In addition, it receives a close aspect from benefic Jupiter. Therefore, Apple's share price rose during the Jupiter-Ketu period from $50 to $70.

Even Tim Cook's horoscope (November 1, 1960; no time) looks troubled as transiting Saturn is conjunct his Venus and squares his natal Rahu.  This looks like he will be preoccupied with losses and disappointment over the coming weeks.  As an added burden, transiting Rahu will conjoin with natal Rahu over the next few weeks.  Moreover, Pluto (23 Sagittarius) is opposite his Mars (23 Gemini) which suggests difficult situations involving frustration and stress, often as a result of power plays.  Since Pluto moves very slowly, this could be a very difficult year for the Apple CEO. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally declined last week on more concerns about growth in China.  The Dow ended the week down marginally to 17,740 while India's Sensex lost 1% to 25,228.  In last week's market forecast I thought gains would be fairly limited to the early week Sun-Jupiter alignment. As expected, we saw gains early and then some pull back later in the week on the Sun-Saturn alignment.

The early week has seen a nice bounce so far, presumably on the Venus-Jupiter aspect.  We could see some profit taking during Wednesday and perhaps Thursday as Venus aligns with Saturn. However, the late week alignments of Sun-Uranus and Mercury-Venus-Pluto may correspond to some upside.  So stocks could be fairly choppy for the rest of the week with moves in both directions.  Next week looks more problematic as the Sun enters sidereal Taurus and opposes Mars while Mercury aligns with Saturn.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dollar extends decline after Fed and BOJ hesitate on rates

(2 May 2016)  Global stock markets were lower last week after the Bank of Japan surprised investors by failing to deliver another round of QE stimulus on Thursday.  Coming just a day after the Fed issued a wishy-washy statement on the prospect for higher rates this year (definitely, maybe!), the stand pat decision by the BOJ raised a red flag that all may not be well in Japan.  Even more worrisome was the growing perception that the BOJ, and by extension, other major central banks, may be rethinking their policy options as the world economy looks as limp as ever. 

If the Fed has been painted into a corner by its fear of raising rates lest it spark a stock market crash, then the BOJ and ECB are looking like they are out of bullets.  Negative interest rates haven't worked in Japan as the Yen has actually risen (the exact opposite of the intended aim) and stocks have declined precipitously.  

Quantitative easing (QE) which mandated buying assets like government and corporate bonds was intended to move money into riskier assets like stocks.  This worked for the past few years but it now appears to be a case of diminishing returns.  Since the ECB's Mario Draghi introduced even more asset buying in March, the German DAX index has been mostly flat.  Maybe central banks are not as omnipotent as they think they are.  And more to the point, more market participants may be realizing that they are limited in terms of what they can do for the economy.  And if they can't resurrect the economy, then that may mean they will be less effective at keeping stock markets afloat. 

In last Wednesday's meeting, Federal Reserve signaled its preoccupation with ongoing troubles in the global economy. This made it even more reluctant to raise US interest rates.  Combined with the BOJ surprise non-move the following day, the Dollar fell to its lowest level since the middle of last year.  The decline pushed commodities like gold and oil higher.  Gold has now moved above $1300 while oil is fast approaching $50. 

We can see how the current planetary alignments may be interacting with the relevant horoscopes of the US Dollar.  Initially, we can take the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 (no time) as the birth of the Dollar.  The current decline in the Dollar Index from a high of 100 on December 1 to its current level below 93 may be linked to the transit of Saturn.  Saturn (now at 21 Scorpio) recently stationed in an exact 120 degree alignment with the natal Sun (22 Pisces).  Although this is not a standard Vedic aspect, it nonetheless should be seen as a negative influence on the Dollar.  The additional close alignments of Uranus (27 Pisces) and Pluto (23 Sagittarius) likely amplify the negativity of Saturn in this instance.

Another useful chart in this regard is the first trade chart of the US Dollar Index in 1985. The Dollar Index (USDX) is a aggregated value of the greenback against its major trading partners.  We can see how pivotal Saturn in Scorpio is in this chart also since it is conjunct the Ascendant (22 Scorpio) and Mercury-Uranus conjunction.  One of the most basic tenets of financial astrology is that Saturn transits are negative and usually coincide with declines, all other things being equal.  Here we have a situation where Saturn is central to two significant horoscopes representing the US Dollar.   The Dollar has fallen during the time period when this Saturn transit was closest. 

So what does the future hold?  As Saturn continues its four-month long retrograde cycle (begun on March 25th), it will back away from this conjunction at 21-22 Scorpio.  Therefore, I would expect some improvement in the Dollar fairly soon.  Other aspects also figure into the equation as Jupiter is about to station direct next week in Leo.  This may have a positive effect on the 1985 chart as it conjoins Rahu at the very top of the chart in the next couple of months.  This Jupiter-Rahu conjunction at 20-23 Leo will also aspect the Venus (20 Aquarius) in the 1792 chart so that is another bullish influence to consider.  Looking further ahead, I would also think that the entry of Jupiter into Virgo in August will also provide a lift for the Dollar. Jupiter remains in Virgo for 13 months until the fall of 2017 so that will likely keep the Dollar fairly strong.  Virgo is the 11th house of gains in the 1985 Dollar Index horoscope, so Jupiter's presence will probably coincide with a rally.

Weekly Market Forecast

As noted, stocks were generally weaker last week as worries about Japan's stagnant economy undermined confidence.  The Dow lost 1% on the week and fell below 18,000. It recovered somewhat today (Monday) but remains below the 18K level.  Indian stocks also fell with the Sensex dropping about 1% last week with an additional small decline on Monday. 

This negative outcome was in line with my expectations in last week's stock market forecast as I thought Thursday's Mercury retrograde station would likely coincide with some downside late in the week.  Moreover, Mercury's alignment with Mars was quite close (by 15 degree multiples) so that boosted the probability of a negative market mood. 

This week looks somewhat more positive at least in the early going as the Sun is aspected by bullish Jupiter on Monday and Tuesday.  Much of the positive influence of this aspect may have manifested already on Monday in the US, however, so it remains to be how much optimism is left.  Since the Sun aligns with Saturn on Wednesday and Thursday, I would be less positive about the second half of the week. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.