Doha talks fail as Mars turns retrograde; oil falls below $40

(18 April 2016)  Crude oil tumbled below $40 a barrel Monday as OPEC failed to come to an agreement to cut production. The much-anticipated Doha talks were intended to reduce output and thereby boost sagging oil prices.  Interestingly, the collapse of the talks came the same day as Mars turned retrograde.  Mars retrograde stations only occur about once every two years and are often symbolic of times of heightened tension and discord.  Mars is often an aggressive and irascible energy but the periods around its stations (i.e. direction reversal) may be times when it is more potent in that regard.  It may be on reason why it was impossible to get the different parties to compromise and agree to a deal.

Oil is in a nasty bear market these days with no end in sight.  As the world economy struggles, demand is down.  Political pressure for alternative fuels may also be reducing demand and that pressure is only going to increase in the future.  As I noted in a December forecast of oil prices, the current dasha period is very difficult these days.  Using the horoscope of the Brent Crude chart, I suggested that the bear market since 2014 is partially due to an inauspicious Mercury-Saturn dasha period. 

Interestingly, the failure of the Doha talks on Sunday occurred on the very same day as the beginning of the new Ketu dasha period -- April 17, 2016 according to the Krishnamurthi ayanamsha.   Ketu is often a negative influence, especially on matter relating to wealth and value.  Ketu is likely to be even more problematic for oil prices since it is conjunct Mars in the natal chart. In that previous December post, I had suggested that the Ketu dasha would likely see oil prices remain under pressure and likely fall further.  We're only one day (!) into the 7-year long Ketu major dasha period, but so far Ketu is fulfilling its reputation for maleficence.

On the final day of the Doha meeting, we can see that Mars (14 Scorpio) turned retrograde while in opposition to natal Saturn (20 Taurus).  Transiting Saturn (21 Scorpio) is also opposite natal Saturn and square to the Sun (19 Leo) so that may be a source of additional pressure on prices.  One of the basic tenets of financial astrology is that Mars and Saturn tend to depress prices when they are involved in transit alignments.  As always, it is best not to rely on only one astrological indicator like dashas.  Transits, progressions, and return charts are useful sources of confirming evidence.  That is very much the case here where the Brent chart is both 1) in a negative dasha period and 2) under difficult transits. 

I would expect oil prices to remain low and probably fall further during this initial Ketu-Ketu dasha period which lasts until September 2016.  The following Ketu-Venus period will extend from Sept 2016 to Nov 2017 and could see a significant rebound begin in oil prices.  Venus is a benefic planetary influence in any event, and it is fairly well-placed in the Brent horoscope as it is in the 11th house.  It may be under pressure from the aspect of Saturn, however, there so that may mean we are unlikely to return to the old prices above $100. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks were higher last week on a positive corporate earnings outlook and a weaker US Dollar.  The Dow climbed almost 2% to 17,897 in New York, while Indian shares fared even better as the Sensex gained 3% to 25,626.  I had been fairly neutral about the week as a whole, although I noted some bullish influences midweek on the Mercury-Jupiter aspect.  Stocks did rise at that time but the upside was greater than I would have expected.  As it turned out, the potentially bearish alignments I noted for Monday and Friday didn't yield much downside. 

Global stocks were mostly negative Monday, presumably on the Venus-Saturn alignment and the initial aftermath of the Mars retrograde station.  US stocks reversed early and finished higher, however. The late week Venus-Uranus conjunction should coincide with some upside this week.  The fact that this conjunction also aligns with Rahu, Uranus and Mercury suggests we could actually see those gains occur at almost any time in the week.  It is hard to be too negative this week, although retrograde Mars could generate some surprises.  I tend to think that we won't see the negative Mars influence manifest until next week when it aligns with Mercury, which is also due to station retrograde on Thursday -- the day after the latest Fed meeting!