Mercury turns retrograde as hopes fade for a US stimulus bill

(14 October 2020) This week US markets began to consider the possibility that there would be no stimulus bill before the election as hopes faded for an agreement between the White House and the Nancy Pelosi's House Democrats.  After Monday's gains almost matched the early September highs, stocks moved lower this week, as Mercury turned retrograde on Tuesday after the close.  Mercury's retrograde stations are often bearish for stocks as the backward movement of the planet of commerce often correlates with pullbacks.       

This political situation feeds into the larger question is whether this week's pullback may be a preview of a larger decline given the ongoing uncertainty about the outcome of the US election on November 3.  While Democrat Joe Biden is well ahead in the polls, investors remain concerned about a possible contested election where President Donald Trump finds a way to appeal the result to the Supreme Court.  A contested election result would be bad news for markets.

One window on the state of the markets is seen through the horoscope of the New York Stock Exchange, founded on May 17, 1792.  The various transit influences on the horoscopes of stock exchanges and stock indexes often provide clues which can help to predict the future movement in share prices.   According to the principles of financial astrology, transit alignments involving benefic planets like Jupiter, Venus and Mercury often coincide with gains while transits of malefic planets like Saturn, Mars, and the Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are common in declines. 

Today's transits are an apt reflection of current sentiment.  On the positive side of the ledger, we can see that the 60-degree aspect between Jupiter-Neptune (bullish) is closely aligned with Uranus and Chiron in the natal NYSE chart.  This is one reason why stocks have been bullish so far in October.  We can also say that the Jupiter-Neptune transit alignment itself is a bullish influence which likely had a hand in creating a more optimistic trading environment. 

It is worth noting that the Jupiter-Neptune alignment was exact on Sunday and Monday, right at the time of Monday's strong rally.  While the positive effects of this alignment can sometimes linger, its bullish influence starts to wane on the day it is exact.  Thus, the two down days we have seen so far suggests that the Jupiter-Neptune alignment is indeed weakening.  Interestingly, there was a similar Jupiter-Neptune alignment on February 20 just before the big Covid sell-off.  This is not to suggest that another huge decline is imminent, but rather that there is an underlying shift in sentiment towards a more pessimistic bias in the wake of these Jupiter-Neptune aspects.

On the negative side of the ledger, we can see that Mercury turned retrograde yesterday after the close of trading in the US.  Mercury stationing retrograde is often a negative influence on sentiment and the downside on Tuesday and Wednesday would appear to be a neat reflection of this tendency.  While Mercury Rx is bearish, its effects do not usually last beyond a few days, even though it continues its retrograde cycle for three weeks and will return to apparent direct motion on Election Day, November 3. 

But the chart suggests other sources of tension.  We can see that the current alignment of retrograde Mars (26 Pisces), the Sun (27 Virgo), Pluto (28 Sagittarius) and Ketu (27 Scorpio) is likely to have a significant impact on this chart.  Mars is conjunct the natal Moon (28 Pisces), while all three planets align with the natal Mars at 27 Leo.  This bearish alignment is closest this week and suggests more downside is quite possible.

Looking further ahead, we can see another mix of influences in play.  Bullish Jupiter is approaching its conjunction with Pluto over the next several weeks and could provide a floor beneath stocks in the event of further volatility.  And yet Saturn (2 Capricorn) is due to aspect Jupiter and the Sun over the next two or three weeks.  This is likely to have a depressing effect on sentiment.  The simultaneous bullish and bearish influences leading up to the election suggests a somewhat mixed market, as opposed to a strong rise or sharp fall.  That said, I might hold on to a modest bearish bias here in any event given the upcoming transit of Venus in Virgo from October 23 until November 16.  Venus is debilitated in sidereal Virgo, as notions of value and wealth come under greater scrutiny. 

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