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     Saturn, Leo to blame for global meltdown: astrologers  ___________

Saturn, Leo to blame for global meltdown: astrologers

MUMBAI (AFP) — From his base in India's financial capital Mumbai, Raj Kumar Sharma has been tracking the turbulence in the world stock markets and has come to one firm conclusion -- it was written in the stars.

As an astro-finance specialist, he has made a career on predicting whether the Bombay Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, Dow Jones or FTSE-100 will go up or down by studying favourable or unfavourable planetary alignments.

Where many blame banks overstretching themselves or inadequate financial controls and policy, Sharma sees a clash between fiery Saturn and its arch enemy Leo as a key factor in the recent financial turmoil.

"Leo is the sign of the sun and the sun is the father in Indian astrology," he told AFP.

"But the son (Saturn) and his father (the sun) don't get along, so whenever they are sitting in the same house together, they always fight and create ill-will and danger in the market," he said.

In late April, Saturn was joined in Leo by Ketu -- a so-called "shadow planet" in Hindu mythology that can indicate failure and loss of wealth.

As Saturn and Ketu fought like "dragons," Sharma predicted a global financial collapse. Mars's arrival in Leo at the end of June stoked the flames further.

And Saturn was again in Leo at the end of August and into September when the financial storm claimed its most high-profile victim.

"That's why Lehman Brothers fell," he said of the US investment bank.

Sharma, 48, is one of a number of practitioners predicting market trends here using ancient Indian or vedic astrology. For traders, it can be another tool to use alongside more orthodox analysis.

In other walks of life, vedic astrology is used to determine everything from a new baby's name to decisions on moving house or opening a new business.

"We Indian astrologers believe that everybody is influenced by the cosmic energy of these stars," said Sharma, who has been drawing up stock market horoscopes for the past 16 years.

"You cannot avoid the coolness of the moon or the heat of the sun. And if you cannot avoid heat and cold, you cannot avoid the influence of Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury or Venus."

Christopher Kevill, who writes a financial astrology column for India's Daily News and Analysis newspaper, agrees there are broad links between planetary positions and stock price movements.

"Just like people have horoscopes, so, too, do corporate entities such as stock exchanges," he told AFP by email from his base in Toronto, Canada.

Jupiter and Venus plus 120 degree angles between planets have tended to indicate positive results while Saturn and Mars and 90 degree angles are traditionally thought of as more troublesome, he explained.

"I don't think the planets 'cause' anything to happen on Earth -- they are mere correlations based on some larger principle of interconnectedness," he explained.

"In the case of the meltdown of the markets in September and October, there were clear signs.

"For example, when Saturn is 150 degrees away from another planet, in this case Rahu, the North Lunar Node, it tends to reflect a state of uncertainty, of fear. It's a lot more complicated than that but that's one layer of explanation."

Sharma is bullish about the months ahead, seeing Venus entering Libra as heralding stability and recovery.

But with Saturn still hanging around Leo there could be more volatility, particularly in oil and the metals markets, he added.

Kevill on the other hand was bearish: "I think rallies will fizzle quickly and then the market will sell off again."

But both agreed on one thing: the troubles are not over.

"The turmoil will continue for two to three years," predicted Sharma.

Kevill was equally pessimistic: "By 2010, I think the markets may be 50 percent lower than current levels."

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