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Giant Full Moon Coming—Danger for Stocks?

What happens when a bull market meets a bad moon rising? We’ll find out this month.

Steve Satushek | Stone | Getty Images

On March 19th, a full moon will occur at around the same time it reaches its closest point to Earth in recent history. Rare planetary events such as this are often associated with above-normal tides, an increase in volcanic activity and more frequent earthquakes, according to astronomers and yes…even some market analysts.

“Depending on the market context, lunar cycles can be completely useless or significant,” said Paul Macrae Montgomery, publisher of the interesting and thorough Universal Economics newsletter. “But in this kind of low volatility environment, it probably has more significance than usual.”

Before dismissing this as voodoo outright, keep in mind that Montgomery, a successful market analyst for 40 years, only watches the lunar cycle as a very small piece of a more sophisticated overall market evaluation in his newsletter, which includes technical analysis, sentiment measurement and insider selling data.

Like many strategists Montgomery has been warning clients that this unusually long period of volatility could mean a stock market correction is overdue. He just differs from the rest because he is citing an astronomical anomaly as just one more—albeit small—reason to get cautious.

For example, PNC’s Chief Investment Strategist William Stone advised some short-term caution to his bank’s clients this week, writing that “it’s been more than twice as long as normal since the S&P 500 experienced a 5 percent decline.”

While it won’t make the strategy note of an institution like PNC bank, one should still note that this won’t be just any ordinary full moon. This month it will occur when the distance between the moon and the earth will narrow to just 356,580 kilometers. When the moon’s orbit brings it to its closest point to the earth that month, it is called the perigee. This is far below the average perigee of 384,400 kilometers and near the smallest distance in the last century.

Such events “have passed before with nothing of consequence, but we would be wise to be prepared for something untoward happening,” said analyst and hedge fund manager Dennis Gartman. His daily The Gartman Letter, considered by many to be required reading on Wall Street trading floors, quoted from Montgomery’s piece.

The market’s current selloff, which intensified on Tuesday after oil prices rose, began after the S&P 500 hit a high on February 18th, the same day of a full moon it just so happens. It also was within 23 hours of the moon’s perigee for February, points out Montgomery.

That event “could have been enough to cause a minor top in stocks, and to affect the geophysical record as well,” wrote Montgomery on Monday. In that same note, he pointed out extreme insider selling as another reason to be cautious and get “flat” here.

Was the full moon on the same day of the market’s 2011 high a coincidence? Maybe. Just don’t be surprised to see more telescopes down on Wall Street.

For the best market insight, catch 'Fast Money' each night at 5pm ET, and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC.


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Trader disclosure: On March 1, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders; Seymour owns (AAPL); Seymour owns (BAC); Seymour owns (F); Seymour owns (GE); Seymour's firm owns (TTM); Seymour's firm is short (FCX); Seymour's firm is short (POT); Adami Owns (AGU); Adami Owns (C); Adami Owns (GS); Adami Owns (INTC); Adami Owns (MSFT); Adami Owns (NUE); Adami Owns (BTU); Adami's wife works for (MRK); Terranova owns (VRTS); Terranova owns (C); Terranova owns (UPL); Terranova owns (ABT); Terranova owns (MS); Terranova owns (PBR); Terranova owns (BAX); Terranova owns (TEVA); Terranova owns (CVI); Terranova owns (RSX); Terranova owns (SU); Terranova owns (CNQ); Pete Najarian owns (AKS) call spreads; Pete Najarian owns (CNI); Pete Najarian owns (DAL) calls; Pete Najarian owns (DOW) calls; Pete Najarian owns (SA); Pete Najarian owns (GG) call spreads; Pete Najarian owns (TEVA); Pete Najarian owns (PFE); Pete Najarian owns (TCK); Pete Najarian owns (C); Pete Najarian owns (BAC) calls; Pete Najarian owns (F) calls; Pete Najarian owns (GE); Pete Najarian owns (JPM) call spreads; Pete Najarian owns (MS); Pete Najarian owns (MU) calls; Weiss owns (BTU); Weiss owns (AAPL); Weiss owns (FAS); Weiss owns (MEE); Weiss owns (JPM); Weiss owns (HBAN); Weiss owns (VZ); Weiss owns (QCOM); Weiss owns (AGU); Weiss is short (X); Weiss owns S&P puts

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