Markets weigh vaccine hopes against new lockdowns

(18 November 2020) Stock markets have been fairly positive in recent days as the Moderna vaccine news gave investors more reason to hope for a return to normal in 2021.  Some of that optimism had faded by Wednesday's session, however, as new lockdowns were announced in various cities and states across the US and Europe.  So while markets tend to look 6-12 months into the future, the prospect of fresh lockdowns challenges the bullish view of a slow but steady improvement in the economy. 

Stocks have been mostly bullish in November, in part due to the conjunction of Jupiter with Pluto which was exact on Nov 12.  Jupiter is a bullish planet, of course, and its conjunctions with outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Chiron and Pluto) usually coincide with up trends in the market.  The bullish effects of the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction are usually felt 5-10 days before the date of the exact conjunction and a lesser number of days afterwards, perhaps 2-5 days.  In last week's post, I thought we would see some lingering positive effects of the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction carry over into this week and Monday was positive.  It also coincided with the typically bullish entry of Venus into Libra. 

But sentiment has soured somewhat over the past two days, most likely due to the simultaneous alignment of the Sun and Venus with Saturn.  Alignments involving bearish Saturn tend to coincide with declines, especially when the aspects are close.  The Sun and Venus made a near-exact alignment with Saturn today so that negative influence could diminish as soon as tomorrow.

Jupiter in Capricorn

Tomorrow is also potentially significant since it is the day that Jupiter enters the sign of Capricorn, according the sidereal/Indian zodiac.  This sets up a sort of good news/bad news scenario.   The good news is that Jupiter changes signs about once a year and it often marks positive market developments, if only briefly.  Just as the Venus sign change on Monday coincided with some upside, there is some reason to think that we could see some upside Thursday and/or Friday from this Jupiter effect.  Tomorrow is a tougher call, however, since the bearish Sun-Venus-Saturn alignment will still be quite close, especially in the morning when the Moon will conjoin Saturn.  Nonetheless, the prospect of a Jupiter sign change suggests that some gains are possible late this week.

However, the bad news is Jupiter's entry into Capricorn means it will eventually conjoin Saturn, with the exact conjunction taking place on December 21.   All other things being equal, Jupiter-Saturn alignments carry an elevated downside risk.  Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions occur every 20 years are associated with bear markets or at least bull market tops.  The previous Jupiter-Saturn conjunction occurred in May 2000, just as stocks were beginning to retreat from their tech bubble peak earlier that year.

Before that, Jupiter conjoined Saturn in July 1981 during a recession when the market in the middle of a down trend.  Of course, there are always exceptions.  The preceding conjunction of February 1961 coincided with a rising market so it is important to think of these alignments probabilistically.  Nonetheless, the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction is another reason to be skeptical about the current rally, especially given the range of headwinds the market now faces.

Jupiter could benefit Trump

The entry of Jupiter into Capricorn could also provide a lift to President Trump's fortunes.  As I have noted previously, over the next week or two Jupiter will aspect Trump's 10th house which symbolizes status and power.  While it could represent some positive developments on other fronts, I do wonder if some of his legal challenges will gain traction.  So far, they have gone nowhere.  And yet given Trump's rising fortunes and the likely simultaneous falling fortunes of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (due to Saturn's placement at 4 Capricorn (square to Harris' Sun and Moon), it is possible this election intrigue could last a bit longer.  I still think Biden will win, but we could take a strange detour to get there.  Let's see how it plays out.

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