Trump surprises markets with new China tariff threat

(6 May 2019)  He who lives by the Trump, dies by the Trump.  Market participants may have been contemplating some adapted biblical wisdom today as stocks fell sharply after the mercurial US President tweeted Sunday that tariffs on Chinese goods would be raised to 25% on Friday.   Despite months of reassurance by the White House that a US-China trade deal was just around the corner, Trump has suddenly decided to play hardball after accusing China of reneging on what had already been agreed upon.

While stocks partially recovered by Monday's close in New York, confidence has been shaken.  It is unclear where the trade deal stands now as the China delegation is due in Washington for another round of negotiations on Wednesday. 

One perspective on this question can be found in the combined horoscopes of Donald Trump and  Xi Jinping.  We can combine the charts by taking the midpoint in time and space and arriving at a relationship chart cast for 14 December 1949.  It should be noted that we don't have a birth time for Xi so his noon chart is used as an approximation.
Immediately, we can see the source of today's tensions.  The Mars-Jupiter opposition sets up exactly on the natal Sun (29 Scorpio) of this combined chart.  Jupiter is usually a positive and harmonious influence especially in matters involving wealth and money, while Mars symbolizes frustration, anger and conflict.  The role of Mars here essentially overrides the Jupiter influence and makes outcomes worse, at least temporarily.  Interestingly, the two men were born one day apart in different years on June 14 (Trump) and June 15 (Xi). 

The ongoing Saturn-Ketu conjunction at 25-26 Sagittarius is setting up in a close 120 degree alignment with the natal Saturn in this combined chart.  This is an indication of heavy burdens and stress that can expose fundamental differences.  This Saturn-Saturn-Ketu set up has been within range for weeks and will only lessen its effect very slowly.  The fact that Saturn is barely moving in the days following its retrograde station (Apr 30) makes this Saturn-Saturn alignment all the more onerous for the Trump-Xi relationship.  It's definitely not a good time for US-China relations.

Mars will likely remain an source of problems this week as it will square its natal position at 1 Virgo 55.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) could see another spike in tensions as the Moon transits over the Mars and will reinforce the Mars-90-Mars alignment.  But I would be surprised if this represented a deal-breaker.  Mars transits are usually bad, but they don't last long and probably won't' symbolize irrevocable differences.  Indeed, we could see hope building again towards the end of the week as Venus aligns with Jupiter and the natal Sun.

But just as Mars probably isn't strong enough to deny a deal, Venus is likely not strong enough to bring forth a final deal either.   The bigger question mark concerns the role of Jupiter as a possible source of an agreement.  Jupiter retrograde gradually moving away from its conjunction with the Sun, so I'm not sure the necessary planets are in place for a deal in the near term.  And later in May Mars will oppose Mercury (May 24) and then square the Moon (May 31 approx.)  This will likely reflect another rise in conflict between Trump and Xi.  It's possible it could reflect other relevant situations like North Korea, but the risk of more trade problems will remain high. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Markets reacted quickly to the latest Trump trade tweets as futures plunged on Sunday night and then global equities fell sharply on Monday.  US stocks were down to start the week but largely recovered by the close of trading.  This decline was in keeping with expectations as it occurred just as Mars opposed Jupiter.  Last week was quite mixed as the Mars-Saturn-Ketu alignment didn't really cause too much damage when all was said and done.  I thought we might have seen a few more cracks in the bull market rally although Wednesday's Fed statement on Wednesday was bearish as expected and we got some follow-through on the downside on Thursday.  Friday's recovery was a bit disappointing but not wholly unexpected given the proximity of the Mercury-Jupiter alignment. 

This week could see more volatility.  Tuesday has a bearish bias as Mars enters sidereal Gemini while Venus squares Saturn and Ketu.    The Moon will conjoin Mars in the afternoon (EDT) so that could further elevate risk. But market bulls may get some relief along the way with the aforementioned Venus-Jupiter aspect on Wednesday and Thursday.  Perhaps this will reflect some constructive trade meetings in Washington.  Friday's Sun-Saturn-Ketu alignment may be more problematic, however. 

For a more detailed analysis of the markets, please check out my weekly subscriber newsletter which is published every Saturday afternoon (EST).   I outline the key technical and planetary influences for US and Indian stocks for the short and medium term, as well as currencies, gold and oil. 

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