Job growth posted a surprisingly strong increase in January, demonstrating again that the U.S. labor market is solid and poised to support broader economic growth. Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 353,000 for the month, much better than the Dow Jones estimate for 185,000. Wage growth also showed strength, as average hourly earnings increased 0.6%, double the monthly estimate. Jeff Cox, “U.S. Economy Added 353,000 Jobs in January, Much Better than Expected,” www.cnbc.com, February 2, 2024.
The U.S. began a series of airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq on Friday, hitting seven facilities in a bid to deter further attacks against American forces in the region after U.S. troops were killed in a deadly drone strike in Jordan. The Biden administration has said the strikes could extend for days and would be coupled with economic sanctions and diplomacy that is aimed at safeguarding American forces while not pushing the U.S. toward direct confrontation with Iran. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that the U.S. can repeat its strikes as long as the threat warrants. “They have a lot of capability, I have a lot more,” Austin said. Gordon Lubold and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Strikes Iran-Backed Groups in Syria and Iraq,” The Wall Street Journal Online, February 2, 2024 (note this was posted as the market closed.)
So the world, and especially the U.S. versus Iran, Hamas, and Russia, move one step closer to a world war that has everything already going on except the title. This at-the-market close also represents another step in the “Flip the Script” narrative related to the Sun-Pluto ingress into Aquarius on January 20. Mercury does the same on Monday, followed by Mars and Venus on February 13-17. That is, each of these planets crosses the super-charged 0° Aquarius point that launched the “New Aira” on December 20, 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn conjoined there for the first time in about 800 years.
It’s not only that. As discussed in the Forecast 2024 book (and to be reviewed with images in the February 18 Forecast 2024 Webinar), Pluto becomes the first of the three outermost planets to ingress into a new sign between 2023 and 2025. That hasn’t happened in 300 years; before that, it was 300 more years. Furthermore, the last time Pluto entered Aquarius (April 1777), Neptune entered Aries (April 1861), and Uranus entered Gemini (August 1941), were within months of the three most important wars in U.S. history. Thus, there is a cosmic cycle pertaining to the U.S. that requires both awareness and wisdom in knowing how to handle it correctly lest it escalate further out of control quickly. It’s a delicate balance between deterrence and aggression, the principle of Saturn and Mars, as Mars currently travels through Capricorn, Saturn’s ruling sign. Fortunately, it is exalted there. But what happens when it ingresses into Aquarius on February 13, which is much more excitable and easily aroused to impulsive action?
I find it peculiar that the announcement came less than four minutes before the stock market closed. Prior to that, U.S. stocks were in the process of making a secondary top to their all-time highs that had just been achieved at 3:30 PM, 30 minutes before the close. During that interval of time, the S&P futures fell about 25 points. Although the S&P and DJIA made new all-time highs on Friday, the NASDAQ futures fell short by just 18 points from their high of January 24 at 17,793. This constitutes a new case of intermarket bearish divergence in the U.S.
New all-time or multi-year highs on Friday were also established in Germany (DAX), Netherlands (AEX), and India (NIFTY). The Australian ASX index fell slightly short of its all-time high of January 2022, while Zurich’s SMI index popped to its highest price since June 2023. China’s Shanghai Composite was less fortunate as China’s economic struggles continue. The SSE fell to 2866 on Friday, its lowest level since April 2022, when it bottomed at 2863. Maybe this is a double bottom. If not, it will fall to its lowest since March 2020.
As would be expected, the late-day announcement of the military activity stopped the bleeding in Gold, Silver, and Crude Oil, as each had taken sharp hits following the bullish jobs report. That is, each of these commodities was strong following Jerome Powell’s speech on Thursday, suggesting that it may be getting close to easing rates again – but not just yet. Crude Oil was especially strong as it rallied to 79.29 last week, its highest mark since November 30 at 79.60. But by Friday, it had fallen nearly 10% to a low of 71.79, which is close to a Fibonacci 61.8% correction of its prior rally from the low of December 12. Silver also gave back about 61.8% of its recent rally into Friday’s low.
The most stable market last week was – surprise – Bitcoin, which traded in a tight range between 42,600 and 44,900.
The violent swings in US equity pricing yesterday tell investors all they need to know about Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s communication skills. In the battle between extremists predicting a hard landing and the realists who see a soft economic landing, the Fed seems to tilt towards a soft landing… The Bank of England has two advantages relative to the Fed. It is headed by a real life economist, and communications are always more convincing when delivered with a British accent. Dr. Paul Donovan, “A Victory for the Realists,” UBS Morning Call, www.ubs.com, February 1, 2024.
“Who owns you?” Not who do you work for, what do you believe, but who bought your loyalty? It is the Washington problem in three words. The social-media companies have bought up Washington. They give money to politicians and political action committees, to think tanks and media shops; they hire the most influential and respected. They give the children of politicians jobs. Mr. Kennedy mordantly joked about this at the hearings: “We know we’re in a recession when Google has to lay off 25 members of Congress.” Peggy Noonan, “Tech CEOs Face another Ritual Denunciation,” Wall Street Journal, “February 3, 2024.
Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day 2024, meaning an early spring is on the way. Joe Brandt, Jim Donovan, Kate Bilo, CBS News, February 2, 2024.
Last week, it was the stand-off between Texas and the United States government over the lack of border controls. This week, it is between the U.S. government and Iran/Syria over attacks on U.S. forces in that region. Next week it will be… well, we don’t know. It is all so Uranian, and Uranus and the sign it rules (Aquarius) being highlighted portends big surprises, big market moves, and sudden reversals. The “surprise” nature of both the planet and the sign is why this column recently mentioned that the season of Aquarius (January 20-February 18) is usually a very difficult climate for traders.
It doesn’t appear ready to let up. This week will find Venus trine Uranus (February 7), the Sun square Uranus (February 8), plus Mercury ingressing into Aquarius (February 5). This is followed by both Mars and Venus entering Aquarius, conjunct Pluto at 0° Aquarius, February 13-17. This year’s Aquarius season is especially hard hit with disruptive cosmic positions. And, of course, all of this is on a path to the 14-year Jupiter/Uranus synodic (conjunction) cycle that takes place on April 20, just as the Bitcoin halving event is to occur.
There is a lot of money to be made in trading in the next three months if your timing is good. And a lot of money is to be lost if your timing and discipline are not up to the task. We have ideas on this, which we will share in the February 18 Forecast 2024 update webinar. This is one you won’t want to miss.
NOTE 1: ONLY TWO MORE WEEKS! February 18, 2024, MMA’s Annual Forecast 2024 World Wide Webinar with Raymond Merriman. The Webinar begins at noon EST and will last 3 hours. In the comfort of your own home or office, you can tune into Raymond Merriman’s annual worldwide Forecast 2024 Webinar. This broadcast will address themes from this year’s Forecast 2024 book, with updates on financial markets since the book was written in November 2023. This presentation will include trading plans for various financial markets based on the possibility of big moves related to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of April 21 and afterwards. Questions submitted by registrants in advance will be addressed in a live Q&A session. If you are unable to attend live, the video recording will be available the following day. Registration for the Forecast 2024 Webinar is now open. Save the date!
The subject topics of this year’s annual Forecast 2024 webinar will include:
- The “New Aira,” 2020-2032
- The outer planets in 2023-2025 and the U.S. war cycle
- The “Aries Vortex” of 2026 +/- 1 year
- Jupiter/Uranus conjunction April 2024 and its correlation to long-term market trends
- The AI revolution and investment opportunities ahead
- The Federal Reserve Board and outlook for the economy and inflation
- Outlook for Bitcoin
- Outlook for Gold
- Outlook for Crude Oil
- Outlook for the U.S. stock market
NOTE 2: THE FEBRUARY ISSUE OF THE MMA Monthly Cycles Report will be released this Monday evening, February 5th. Each issue gives an overview of what we expect for the next month and even year and includes MMA’s proprietary CRDs (critical reversal dates) for the next month). As we start the year, we are focused on the status of the 4-year cycle in stocks (when might they top out?) and the 16.5-month cycle in Gold (when might it bottom?), as well as the 44-month cycle in Crude Oil (has it already bottomed?) and other long-term cycles in Copper, Euro, T-Notes, and Soybeans. We provide key time bands and price ranges when these are most likely. And, of course, we will update the status of primary cycles in each of these markets as well for traders. In addition to MMA’s original geocosmic critical reversal dates (CRDs), each issue also lists MMA’s Solar/Lunar reversal dates over the next several weeks for stock indices, Gold, Silver, and the Euro. If you would like to try out one month of the MMA Monthly Cycles Report, you can sign up for the February 5th Report for only $35!
NOTE 3: THE JANUARY ISSUE OF THE MMA Monthly Cycles Report Plus+, edited by Pouyan Zolfagharnia, was issued last week. This market letter has become a very popular addition to the MMA Cycles Report (less technical, more visual with horoscopes of current importance, high-quality analysis, and updates on MMA Cycles Report markets). The mid-month addendum to the MMA Cycles report has stunning graphics and charts (people love it!) and is very readable. It contains more illustrations and references to geocosmics than most MMA Cycles reports and is only available for subscription to those who also subscribe to the MMA Monthly Cycles Report. If you wish to try this month’s addendum, along with the latest issue of the MMA Monthly Cycles Report, sign up online at the link above. Subscription for a monthly copy of both reports is $55. That will give you both the most recent January copy of the MMA Cycles Report and the January MMA Cycles Report Plus+ addendum.
NOTE 4: THE MMA WEEKLY YouTube show, Geocosmic Week in Review and Look Ahead, with Gianni Di Poce, is conducted on Wednesday evenings! Each 5 to 20-minute FREE episode reviews the market activity of the previous week and offers a preview of the geocosmic signatures in effect for the following week and beyond.
NOTE 5: MMA’S FREE WEEKLY COLUMN PODCAST IS AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY, APPLE, AND AMAZON! Now you can listen to a podcast of this weekly column by Thomas Miller on Saturdays! Just follow Merriman Market Analyst on Spotify or Apple to listen to all our episodes. New podcast episodes will be released every weekend. This is a FREE service and is available to everyone. Check out our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, and Apple Music. It makes for great listening!
NOTE 6: MMA’S Daily and Weekly Subscription Reports continue to be very hot, especially with stock indices, metals, and Bitcoin over the past several weeks. To order any of MMA Daily, Weekly, or Monthly subscription reports, please click here.
February 18, 2024: MMA’s Annual Forecast 2024 Webinar with Raymond Merriman. Starts at noon EST, which is 11:00 AM CET, 9:00 AM PST, and 6 PM CET. It will be very early in the morning in Australia, Beijing and Tokyo. This live broadcast will address themes from this year’s Forecast 2024 book, with updates on financial markets since the book was written in November 2023. This presentation will include trading plans based on the possibility of big moves related to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of April 21 and afterwards in the U.S. stock market, Gold, Silver, Crude Oil, and Bitcoin. It will also cover the geopolitical setup of the outer planets moving into new signs between now and 2025 (war cycles, techno-renaissance cycle) and into the Aries Vortex of 2025-2027. Cost is $55.00, and includes the PDF of the presentation slides plus access to the video recording of the event. Questions will be answered that are submitted one week before the event if they are deemed of interest to the overall audience. If you are unable to attend the live session, the video recording will be available the following day. Registration for the Forecast 2024 Webinar is now open. Save the date!
March 9, 2024: The Aries Vortex: Third Phase of the “New Aira” with Raymond Merriman. Hosted by The Astrology University. This is a 90-120-minute webinar presentation that explores the hope for humanity as shown by the unusual planetary arrangement of 2025-2027 involving the Saturn/Neptune conjunction on 0° Aries, the Vernal equinox point that marks the start of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also the midpoint of the Uranus/Pluto trine, creating a funnel, or vortex, at 0° Aries. This has huge symbolic importance to the world and aligns with other important economic and socio-cultural time cycles. Cost is $30.00 if registered before March 7. For further information, click here.
April 20, 2024: “FORECASTS 2024 AND THE APPROCHING ARIES VORTEX,” Nova Southwestern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, with Ray Merriman. An in-person, live event and workshop, 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM, with a 90-minute lunch break. We will also update financial markets that are likely to be at critical stages in their cycles then, as it takes place under the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction that day. Cost is $95.00. This is one of the few live in-person events to be given by Ray Merriman this year. This event will not be broadcast via Zoom, but recordings will be made available for sale a few days afterwards. For further information and registration, please click here.
SEPTEMBER 19-22, 2024: MMA’s 2024 Investment Retreat. SAVE THE DATES!!! We will be hosting our 2024 Investment Retreat in Europe for the first time since 2015. You won’t want to miss this chance to meet with the top MMA analysts (plus special guest speakers Claude Weiss and Aleksandar Imsiragic) live and hear strategies for long-term investments and wealth-building ideas using MMA market timing methods. There is nothing quite like a life-altering MMA Investment Retreat! This one will be very special, and it will be our first investment retreat in Europe since 2015!
Disclaimer and statement of purpose: The purpose of this column is not to forecast the future movement of various financial markets. However, that is the purpose of the MMA (Merriman Market Analyst) subscription services. This column is not a subscription service. It is a free service, except in those cases where a fee may be assessed to cover the cost of translating this column from English into a non-English language. This weekly report is written with the intent to educate the reader on the relationship between astrological factors and collective human activities as they are happening. In this regard, this report will often cite what happened in various stock and financial markets throughout the world in the past week and discuss that movement in light of the geocosmic signatures that were in effect. It will then identify the geocosmic factors that will be in effect in the next week, or even month, or even years, and the author’s understanding of how these signatures may affect human activity in the times to come. The author (Merriman) will do this from the perspective of a cycles analyst looking at the military, political, economic, and even financial markets of the world. It is possible that some forecasts will be made based on these factors. However, the primary goal is to both educate and alert the reader as to the psychological climate we are in from an astrological perspective. The hope is that it will help the reader understand the psychological dynamics that underlie (or coincide with) the news events and their potential effect on financial markets.
No guarantee as to the accuracy of this report is being made here. Any decisions in financial markets are solely the responsibility of the reader, and neither the author nor the publishers of this column assume any responsibility whatsoever for anyone’s trading or investment decisions. Readers of this report should understand that commodity futures and options trading are considered high risk.