US stocks approach record highs as Jupiter enters Libra

(13 September 2017) US stock indexes again approached record highs this week as investors breathed a sigh of relief after Hurricane Irma proved less damaging than feared.  And with North Korea receding from the news cycle and Trump's surprising debt ceiling deal with the Democrats, markets are looking quite strong.  The Dow closed above 22,000 on Tuesday while the Sensex is again challenging its previous high as it finished above 32,000 in Wednesday trading.

This bullish outcome appeared to contradict my fairly pessimistic outlook for August and September.  I thought the effects of the late August solar eclipse, the Saturn direct station and the Saturn-Rahu alignment would likely dampen sentiment and increase the odds of declines.  However, I did note that these negative influences were more specifically focused upon the month of August and into first week of September.   While we didn't see anything too dramatic occur, stocks were somewhat weak throughout August and early September did see a modest pullback on renewed North Korean tensions. 

Once we were past last week's Mercury-Mars conjunction, there was a better chance for some upside.  In fact, I noted in the likelihood of gains this week in my weekly subscriber newsletter.  That optimism was partially due to the entry of Jupiter into sidereal Libra that occurred on Monday, 11 September.  Jupiter is a bullish planet, of course, and when it changes signs once a year according to the Indian sidereal zodiac, stocks are often positive for a day or two at least.  Indeed, the Dow rose 1.2% on Monday and then extended the gains into Tuesday.  As the chart below shows, the past five Jupiter sign changes have all coincided with positive days in the US stock market.

        Date       Jupiter enters sign   Dow performance
  30 May 2013           Gemini       +0.1%
  18 June 2014           Cancer       +0.8%
  13 July 2015           Leo       +1.0%
  11 Aug 2016           Virgo       +0.5%
  11 Sep 2017          Libra       +1.2%

At the same time, it is important to remember that this is still only one factor among many.   Stocks may also fall when Jupiter changes signs if there are other prominent negative influences.  This is in fact what happened on the previous sign change of 16 May 2012 when Jupiter entered Taurus.  At that time, Jupiter also formed a near-exact alignment with Saturn.  Saturn is a more bearish planet so it should not have been surprising that stocks fell around that Jupiter-Saturn alignment, the Jupiter sign change notwithstanding. 

The Jupiter-Uranus opposition: A reversal signal?

But the outlook for the rest of September looks uncertain.  The positive Jupiter in Libra influence is likely to fade in coming days so that could well translate into some selling late in the week.  More importantly, I would pay special attention to the Jupiter-Uranus opposition aspect that is exact on 27 September.  This aspect is fairly rare as its aspect series occurs only once every 13-14 years.  The last opposition aspect series occurred in 2003.  But due to the retrograde cycles of both Jupiter and Uranus, the precise 180 degree opposition can actually occur as many as three times over the course of the alignment year. 

This is in fact the case this year as Jupiter-Uranus opposition is due to occur three times.  It last took place on 2 March 2017 and before then, on 26 December 2016.  As with most Jupiter aspects, this is a bullish influence.  However, we should note that there is a tendency for gains to be focused during the time leading up to the aspect.   The time of the exact aspect can often be bearish.  In December 2016, stocks generally rose into the aspect on the post-election rally and then leveled off and even pulled back a bit in January.   The early March 2017 opposition aspect similarly marked the interim top for stocks almost exactly as stocks peaked on the day before the opposition aspect on 1 March. 

The takeaway here is that the upcoming third Jupiter-Uranus aspect creates a plausible scenario where stocks could remain strong and even rise further in September.  While no aspect operates as expected all the time, it is one reason why a significant reversal in the coming days is less likely to occur. 

And yet there still remains the background bearish influence of the alignment between Saturn and Rahu (North Lunar Node) which could undermine all of this bullish Jupiter sentiment.  This Saturn-Rahu alignment is less than three degrees now and will be exact on 9 October and could therefore exercise a negative effect as we get closer to that date.  As it happens, Venus enters Virgo on 9 October also so that could well prove to be a time of significant developments for financial markets.  The entry of Venus into Virgo often marks the start of a bearish period that can last 1-4 weeks.

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 is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.