Stocks rally ahead of the Mercury retrograde station

(16 June 2020) Well, this is the last thing we need.  With all that is going on in the world these days, Mercury is due to turn retrograde just after midnight (EDT) on Thursday morning, June 18.  Three or four times a year, Mercury undertakes an apparent backwards journey in the night sky for a period of approximately 21 days.  The solar system's fastest planet isn't actually going backwards, of course, but only appears that way because of its different orbital speed from Earth.  Astrologers believe that Mercury retrograde periods are marked by misunderstandings, technical breakdowns, frustrations and delays.  

While Mercury retrograde periods can very often coincide with these kinds of problems, it is important not to exaggerate its importance in our daily lives.  Many people may be unaffected by the retrograde cycle, especially if the Mercury retrograde cycle does not activate any key planets in their natal horoscope. 

On Thursday, Mercury will station retrograde at 20 degrees of sidereal Gemini.  If a person was born with, say, Jupiter near that point, then the Mercury retrograde station will likely be very positive and could manifest as good career news.  Conversely, if someone was born with Saturn near 20 Gemini, then this week's Mercury retrograde station is more likely to bring frustrations and setbacks related to Mercury's symbolic portfolio of commerce, computers and travel.  

Mercury will conclude its retrograde cycle at 11 Gemini on July 12.  Individuals with malefic planets like Saturn and Mars in that middle range of 11-20 degrees of Gemini, or perhaps in the opposite sign of Sagittarius, are therefore more likely to experience the classic sorts of Mercury retrograde hassles.  Other specific elements of the individual horoscope may also form positive or negative aspects with Mercury as it moves through its retrograde cycle.

In that sense, we should think about Mercury retrograde as having a stronger impact for good or ill, largely because it is moving more slowly than usual.  As a rule, the slower the planet, the stronger its impact.  That's why the time around the retrograde and direct stations are the most powerful.  When Mercury is stationary it can form an aspect with another planet for a much longer time than it ordinarily would. 

Mercury retrograde and the stock market

Nonetheless, retrograde Mercury's bad reputation is not all myth.  We can see how it manifests on our collective consciousness through its effects on the stock market.  If nothing else, the stock market is a barometer for collective human sentiment at any given time.  From my experience, Mercury retrograde cycles do have some modest correlations with down markets. 

But there are two important conditions that should be noted.  First, the 3-4 days around the time of the stations (i.e. the reversal of direction) is usually the most important for markets.  Markets are not more or less likely to fall during the entire 21-day retrograde cycle.  Second, while Mercury retrograde stations may be somewhat bearish, it also matters a great deal what planets it aligns with at the time of the retrograde and direct stations. 

At the time of the last Mercury Rx station on Feb 17, 2020, Mercury formed a minor 45 degree angle with Saturn and was aspected by Rahu.  Both planets are malefics and thus stocks fell slightly on the day after the retrograde station and fell further three days after the station.  The retrograde cycle ended on March 9, 2020 as Mercury aligned closely with malefic Saturn.   Not surprisingly, this was also a bearish influence as stocks were in the midst of their Covid-19 waterfall decline. 

The previous Mercury retrograde station occurred on Oct 31, 2019.  Stocks did indeed also fall that day but rebounded the following day and continued higher thereafter.  One reason may have been that Mercury was conjunct bullish Venus at the time of the Rx station so that mitigated much of the inherent negativity of the Mercury retrograde station. 

The lesson here is that not all Mercury retrograde periods are created equal.  While there seems to be a general bearish bias to them, the negative effects can be quite minor and short-lived, sometimes just one day or even less.  But if Mercury is heavily afflicted by malefic planets at the time of its retrograde or direct station, then the down move could be more significant. 

Weekly Market Forecast

This week's retrograde station looks more negative in that respect.  While Mercury turns retrograde in its own sign of Gemini (that's usually a plus actually), it will form a tense minor aspect with Saturn.  This is not a full-strength aspect so the effect may not be too strong, but it is not helpful.   Moreover, it forms the same minor 165-degree aspect with Ketu (South Lunar Node).  Significantly, the midpoint of Saturn and Ketu will be exactly opposite Mercury on Thursday and Friday.  

Another potential negative in the mix this week is that Mars will change signs on Thursday-Friday and enter Pisces.  Mars sign ingresses sometimes coincide with increases in volatility, although by itself the effect is limited.  This week, however, we will also have Mercury turning retrograde while in an unusual alignment with Saturn and Ketu.  This loads the cosmic dice in favour of some negative sentiment which could see stocks reverse lower. 

The upcoming solar eclipse this coming Sunday also has some interesting alignments that would suggest a more pessimistic mood.  The Sun-Moon conjunction of the eclipse forms a 150-degree angle with Saturn.  In the Navamsha D-9 chart, Saturn squares both the Sun and Moon.  This suggests disappointment and setbacks are more likely over the weekend which could further negatively impact sentiment going into next week. 

For more details, 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.

Photo of Mercury: NASA/JPL

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