Horoscopes for Thursday, January 1
In the broader sense, the sky is taking us on a journey of exploration that will lead to many exciting surprises.
January 01, 2009
TORONTO STAR ASTROLOGER
The heavens are making it abundantly clear that life on Earth is entering a dramatic period of change. Pluto, the ruler of Hades in Greek mythology, has left Sagittarius and is now in Capricorn, the sign of business until 2024.
A world economic crisis has begun.
Capricorn represents stability and success in the material world. Pluto is the planet of death and rebirth. When it blows, it does so with volcanic intensity.
The world financial markets in recent months have been rocked by a series of major earthquakes. As a result, the corporate culture is facing the greatest challenge in its history.
Yet another astrological configuration with an extremely potent punch is moving into position. This is what astrologers call the Cardinal Climax.
Cardinal signs – Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn – are a fount of energy. They like to take action and initiate. The Cardinal Climax takes place when Libra, Aries and Capricorn will be host, respectively, to the big three planets: Saturn, representing the status quo; Uranus, representing revolution; and Pluto, representing transformation.
The ancient gods of mythology – Uranus, Saturn and Pluto – are rapidly moving into a highly volatile configuration.
Imagine a clock face. When this climax arrives, Uranus will be at 9, Saturn at 3 and Pluto will be firmly ensconced at 12. This will form what in astrology is known as a T-square configuration. The Cardinal Climax will build toward a crescendo in October, when Uranus enters Aries, and culminate in May 2010 when Saturn reaches Libra.
The tide is rising. The path of humanity is about to be redirected in a huge way.
The last time these three planets got into a similar caustic arrangement was from 1929 to 1932. Yes, that's right. It was during the Great Depression.
These are tough times – alarm bells are ringing on the cosmic clock – but by no means do they spell disaster. The situation is potent and intense but, essentially, it bodes wonderfully well, if wise leaders guide us through the storm.
Make no mistake about it. Those leaders will appear if we are passionate in our desire to improve the world.
On the purely positive side for 2009, Jupiter enters Aquarius on Monday and will remain there all year. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and hope and Aquarius is the sign of change. This is good for the air signs of Aquarius, Libra and Gemini and the fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
Everyone, regardless of zodiac sign, will be buoyed by a sense of hope.
Jupiter's highly auspicious journey through Aquarius in 2009 will be magnified by the proximity of magical Neptune, the planet of ideals, altruism and inspiration.
The close liaison between these two planets all year will stimulate growth in the arts. Understanding between nations will be enhanced. There is hope and a strong belief that constructive change will undo the woes of the world.
Here in Canada, quite the political drama is unfolding. A historic coalition has rattled the government. The Liberals have responded to the urgency of the situation with alacrity by appointing a new leader.
There is a fascinating link between the cycles of Venus and recent Canadian general elections. Venus rules relationships of all kinds – love, business, politics, person to person, the individual versus society, humanity versus the environment, etc. Even the relationship between an electorate and its government is ruled by Venus.
All planets periodically appear, from our geocentric point of view, to zig backward before zagging forward. It's called retrograde motion.
The rhythms vary. Venus, for example, turns backward once every 19 months for about six weeks. This is an unsettled period, when relationships require re-evaluation and reassessment.
The past two Venus retrogrades coincided with the Canadian general elections of June 2004 and January 2006. Both produced uneasy minority governments. Canadians just couldn't make up their minds.
Following this celestial precedent, one would expect a third general election to take place during the next Venus retrograde, between March 6 and April 17.
Stephen Harper's bid to gain a majority by calling an election last October appeared to break the pattern. His attempt, however, failed. So, the odds are back on for an early spring election after all.
Venus seems determined to send the Canadian electorate to the polls until they get it right.
In the broader sense, the sky is taking us on a journey of exploration that will lead to many exciting surprises. Uncertainty most definitely lies ahead for the entire world, but great success can be achieved during times of stress. In many ways, your chances are better than ever.
Keep your eye on the vision of the best possible future you would love to create. This is an unprecedented chance to move a giant step closer to your hopes and dreams.
Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com
or at thestar.com/horoscope.
Analysts see equities under pressure until the U.S. musters an economic recovery – perhaps in the back half of 2009
January 01, 2009
"If Santa Claus should fail to call, bears may come to Broad & Wall."
That adage – coined by Yale Hirsch, founder of the Stock Trader's Almanac – warns that if the traditional Santa Claus rally fails to materialize during the last five trading days of the outgoing year and the first two of the new one, it is a bad omen for stocks.
The last five trading sessions of 2008 produced a flurry of mixed results for key New York indexes, while the Toronto stock market mostly posted gains. It remains to be seen how investors will ring in the new year when trading resumes tomorrow. Nonetheless, analysts suggest that glad tidings may be in short supply in 2009 – at least for the near term.
Since mid year, stocks on both sides of the border have been trapped in a vicious bear market that has already proven to be one of the worst ever for Toronto's main stock index.
Despite soaring to a record-breaking high of 15,073.13 on June 18, Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index posted a 35 per cent loss for 2008 as the crisis of confidence that infected credit markets also proved contagious for stocks.
If past experience is any guide, the average TSX bear market requires about three years to return to its previous peak.
The bad news, experts say, is that markets will likely remain choppy in the short term.
"We anticipate that Canadian equities will remain under pressure through 2009; our end-2009 TSX composite target is 8,000, and we expect the market to trade somewhat lower than that through the year," said David Wolf, an economist with Merrill Lynch, in a recent report.
"Our TSX operating EPS forecast for 2009 is $620, down 35 per cent from 2008 and 28 per cent below the bottom-up consensus. We cannot call a bottom for equities until Canadian market participants evince a more realistic and balanced assessment of the drastically changed macro environment and until greater visibility allows risk premiums to ebb."
Underpinning his "still-bearish outlook" is a two-pronged argument that contends analysts' revised earnings forecasts are still too upbeat, while stocks are "not nearly as cheap" as they might seem.
"Based on the bottom-up consensus EPS (earnings per share) number for 2009, the TSX is currently trading at 10 times forward earnings, indeed close to the lowest levels we've seen in 20 years," observed Wolf. "But using our $620 forecast, the market is trading at more than 13 times forward earnings, no cheaper by this metric than has generally been the case over the past several years."
Wolf may be known for his bearish views, but even traditional equities bulls are advising investors to tread cautiously. Among them is Paul Taylor, chief investment officer for BMO Harris Private Banking, who warns the first half of 2009 will be "very challenging" for capital markets.
"As a result we plan to only be a very selective buyer of Canadian equities early in the year," stated Taylor. "However, as economic growth re-ignites, there will be an opportunity for a rotation into more cyclical stocks and sectors."
Even allowing for that smidge of optimism, Taylor's cautious stance is a marked shift from last April when he predicted the outlook for equities would improve during the second half of 2008.
Taylor, however, is not the only Bay Street veteran altering forecasts in the face of deepening economic woes. Jeff Rubin, chief economist of CIBC World Markets, recently pared his 2009 year-end TSX target by 1,000 points to 11,000. In doing so, he counselled clients to "think twice before bulking up on stocks just yet."
Last June, Rubin predicted that strong crude oil prices would spur the TSX to hit a record high of 15,200 by the end of 2008. It didn't quite make it, but came within spitting distance as commodity prices soared.
As oil prices reversed course, however, he slashed his short-term target to 9,500 and then again to 9,000 on Dec. 10. The TSX actually ended 2008 at 8,987.70 points.
"We continue to expect the North American economy to contract over the first half of the year, with near-term punitive consequences for earnings," Rubin said, suggesting that investors "going long stocks now should be prepared for more jolts along the way."
Despite the darkening economic outlook, Rubin does hold out hope that "more than reasonable" returns could be generated over the next 12 months. His prediction largely hinges on plans for a mammoth fiscal stimulus from the American government. Such measures, he said, "should resuscitate growth by the second half of the year, spelling a recovery in both earnings and commodity prices, particularly energy."
Vincent Delisle, director of portfolio strategy at Scotia Capital, also suggests the long-term equity outlook is poised to improve even if the not-so-distant future looks dim.
"Since Canada's economy and equity market lag the U.S. by approximately 12 to 18 months, 2009 will be the year where Canada's numbers visibly deteriorate," Delisle said. "Our 2009 TSX EPS forecast is set at $650, pointing to a 32 per cent decline in TSX earnings."
Delisle suggests that S&P 500 earnings will likely rebound before those of the TSX. With that being his "index of choice," his "defensive" sector preferences include financials, discretionary, consumer staples and utilities.
He agrees it may be too soon to call a definitive bottom, but observes that past bear markets have either rebounded or fell into a trough during recessions rather than times of economic recovery. Historical data suggest S&P 500 bear markets typically end about eight months before the job market heals.
CIBC economists Peter Buchanan and Meny Grauman, meanwhile, suggest the TSX's bottom could be nigh if the United States manages to muster an economic recovery during the back half of 2009.
"The good news is that since the 1920s Canadian stocks have tended to bottom between three and nine months before the end of a U.S. recession, with the median being around five months," they wrote.
"True, the economic challenges facing the country are nearly unprecedented, but so too is the accompanying government response."