A question for investors in 2015: Do you feel lucky?

(4 January 2015)  As Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry famously noted, it sometimes just comes down to luck.  The New Year is upon us now and investors are once again assessing the risk-reward ratio of this vastly inflated stock market. As the world economy continues to struggle, central banks have been desperately trying to stimulate growth by various clever means of money printing.  Even though the average person isn't doing much better, the stock market has responded favourably to all this borrowed government money as the bull market now enters its six year since its 2009 low. 

Can the stock market rise for yet another year despite unimpressive economic fundamentals and so-so job growth in the US and a deflationary stagnation taking shape in Europe and Japan?  Bullish investors may pause to consider whether their luck can hold and the central banks can keep this game going for another year.   While no one can know the future with certainty, an understanding of the effects of the changing alignments of the planets can provide useful hints for the year ahead.

Several weeks ago, I thought that the Jupiter retrograde on 8 December might mark a significant top in the markets.  Jupiter is traditionally seen as a planet of expansion and its reversal in direction was one reason to think that some of its optimistic energy might wane as it began its four-month retrograde cycle.  In addition, I noted how Jupiter stationed retrograde in an exact aspect with the natal Moon in the chart of the New York Stock Exchange.  As Jupiter moved away from this positive aspect with the Moon, I reasoned, there was less likely to be additional gains for stocks, at least in the short run.  This proved to be only temporarily correct, however, as US stocks rebounded to marginally higher highs through Christmas. 

Other stock markets in Europe and Asia did peak in early December and have struggled to regain those levels ever since.  The Tokyo market hit a 10-year high on the exact day of the Jupiter retrograde, while India's BSE hit an all-time high just four days before and has since declined.  The UK FTSE made an important interim high three days before Jupiter reversed direction and has been lower ever since, while the German DAX also topped out just three days before Jupiter stationed retrograde.  Jupiter turns retrograde once a year and moves backwards through the sky for about four months before resuming its normal forward motion.

To cut to the chase, I think the outlook for 2015 is negative for stocks.  Besides the effect of a weakened Jupiter over the next three months, there are a couple of other patterns that may correspond with declines on many stock markets around the world.  For the purposes of this brief post, I want to focus on the NYSE chart.  The chart may be considered a plausible proxy for global markets as a whole.  While Jupiter separates from its aspect with the Moon, it nonetheless remains in the 1st house in this chart and therefore may retain some protective effect on collective market sentiment.  Jupiter will remain in Cancer in the 1st house in this chart for the first half of the year, so that could help prevent some more serious crash-like scenarios. 

More worryingly, however, Saturn (7 Scorpio) has just moved past its opposition aspect with the Sun (6 Taurus).  I would have thought we might have already seen more downside as this aspect was at its closest but it remains a source of potential caution in January.  Saturn is a bearish influence and its aspects are often found in situations where pessimism predominates.

The additional problem with this transit of Saturn in Scorpio is that it is due to station retrograde at 10 Scorpio on 14 March  This will form a near-exact 120 degree angle with the natal Ketu (South Lunar Node) in the chart.  Since both Saturn and Ketu are considered natural malefics, their geometric connection is a red flag, as two negatives can make one big negative.  Due to the very slow motion of Saturn, the effects could be manifested a couple of weeks either side of the date of the station.  More ominously, Mars conjoins Uranus and tightly squares Pluto just three days before this Saturn station.

While Jupiter will again form a positive trine angle with the Moon in early July, we can see that there will be a nodal return at the same time.  Rahu and Ketu will conjoin their natal positions in late June.  Nodal returns are often problematic as the disruptive and unpredictable nature of the nodes come to light.  Although not always negative, they are more likely to correspond with periods of instability in the markets. 

The summer gets another astrological mark against it as Saturn is due to station direct at 4 Scorpio in early August.  This will place it smack dab at the midpoint of the Sun and Mercury in the NYSE chart.  This likely suggests the mid- to late-summer period will see the markets fall. 

Jupiter's trine aspect to Saturn and then Venus in the late summer and early fall could see a return to optimism, although I suspect it won't be very enduring.  Jupiter will be moving quite fast at that time so its optimism will not have much time to take root.

Saturn then aligns with Rahu in September just as both will be in a tight alignment with the natal Sun at 6 Taurus.  This early fall period could be another rough patch for stocks. 

Jupiter's conjunction with Mars (27 Leo) in November and December offers the possibility of a significant recovery in the market at the end of the year. 

Overall, however, I think the difficult aspects outweigh the positive ones, at least in this chart.  I think the likelihood is that US stocks will finish 2015 lower than their current levels.  This will likely hold true for many if not most stock markets around the world.  Just how much lower is harder to say, but I will offer some thoughts on this question in my subscriber newsletter throughout the year. 

Weekly Financial Update

As noted, stocks got off to an uncertain start in 2015 last week as the Dow lost 1% closing at 17,832.  By contrast, Indian stocks rallied as the Sensex finished at 27,887.  As I predicted in my newsletter, the early week entry of Venus into Capricorn correlated closely with gains. In general, the second half of the week was more negative as malefic Mars opposed Jupiter. 
This week looks quite choppy as the early week will see Mercury in aspect with bearish Saturn just as Mars enters Aquarius.  But the midweek looks more encouraging as Mercury and Venus align with Neptune.  The late week looks more difficult as Mars could be close enough to activate the Saturn-Neptune square.  There is a lot of negative energy contained in this trio but it is unclear just when it will manifest -- this week, next week, or the week after.