Maggie Hyde's Company Futures
The Observer 1 January 2002



The recessionary mood of 2001 was marked by the opposition of abysmal Pluto to Saturn, the grim reaper, in the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius. This occurred twice, on 5 August and 2 November, and the astrological message for the New Year is that its doomy symbolism isn't over yet. The final opposition of this recessionary pair takes place on 25 May, bringing further downward pressure on the Gemini-Sagittarian sectors - media, advertising, telecomms, publishing and transport, especially the airlines. Expect the fall of a media giant around this date, with knock-on effects for the whole media industry. Bargain hunters in these sectors should not take risks until June.

Markets could start in a drift-along, uncertain mood as investors chase straws in the wind, but in the first quarter, shipping, pensions and insurance could do better than expected. By Easter, watch for good opportunities with an attractive bonds issue and the flotation of a well-established name.

Early summer brings a bullish mood with a strong upward surge in tech stocks after Saturn triggers Uranus on 21 August. Electronics, electrical equipment and engineering could all do well then, but the turnaround comes from Jupiter's entry into fiery Leo on 1 August. Once that ignites, confidence returns and the markets will begin to roar. Amongst the strong performers, look out for leisure, entertainment and gambling, tourism, hotels and luxury retail, oil and gas, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

In the second half of the year, the worst upsets are around the time of the 9/11 anniversary, and around 10 October when fraud and bad ethics shake things up and undermine market confidence. Off-shore investments are also under pressure, with increasing calls for big-brother legislation in late autumn. But no matter. By the end of the year, markets are set to boom and with nothing to hold them back, it's up, up and away.

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