BULL TRAP STILL UNDERWAY
It symbolizes power, good fortune, and strength and is associated with auspicious traits like intelligence, ambition and charisma. Historically linked with imperial power, Chinese emperors considered themselves descendants of dragons, emphasizing the dragon's esteemed position.
5 Things You May Not Know About Leap Day
Nearly every four years, we add an extra day to the calendar in the form of February 29, also known as Leap Day. Put simply, these additional 24 hours are built into the calendar to ensure that it stays in line with the Earth’s movement around the sun.
While the modern calendar contains 365 days, the actual time it takes for Earth to orbit its star is slightly longer—roughly 365.2421 days. The difference might seem negligible, but over decades and centuries that missing quarter of a day per year can add up. To ensure consistency with the true astronomical year, it is necessary to periodically add in an extra day to make up the lost time and get the calendar back in synch with the heavens.
1. Many ancient calendars had entire leap months
Many calendars, including the Hebrew, Chinese and Buddhist calendars, are lunisolar, meaning their dates indicate the position of the moon as well as the position of Earth relative to the sun. Since there is a natural gap of roughly 11 days between a year as measured by lunar cycles and one measured by the Earth's orbit, such calendars periodically require the addition of extra months, known as intercalary or interstitial months, to keep them on track.
Intercalary months, however, were not necessarily regular. Historians are still unclear as to how the early Romans kept track of their years, mostly because the Romans themselves may not have been entirely sure. It appears that the early Roman calendar consisted of ten months plus an ill-defined winter period, the varying length of which caused the calendar to become unpegged from the solar year.
Eventually, this uncertain stretch of time was replaced by the new months of January and February, but the situation remained complicated. They employed a 23-day intercalary month known as Mercedonius to account for the difference between their year and the solar year, inserting it not between months but within the month of February for reasons that may have been related to lunar cycles.
2. Julius Caesar introduced Leap Day, with help from the Egyptians...
The Mercedonius-when-we-feel-like-it system apparently irked Caesar, the general-turned-consul-turned-dictator of Rome who drastically altered the course of European history. In addition to conquering Gaul and transforming Rome from a republic into an empire, Caesar re-ordered the Roman calendar, giving us the blueprint off of which much of the world still operates to this day.
To make matters even more confusing, the decision of when to hold Mercedonius often fell to the consuls, who used their ability to shorten or extend the year to their own political ends. As a result, by the time of Julius Caesar, the Roman year and the solar year were thoroughly out of sync.
During his time in Egypt, Caesar became convinced of the superiority of the Egyptian solar calendar, which featured 365 days and an occasional intercalary month which was inserted when astronomers observed the correct conditions in the stars. Caesar and the philosopher Sosigenes of Alexandria made one important modification: instead of relying on the stars, they would simply add a day to every fourth year. In keeping with the Roman tradition of messing with the length of February, that day would fall in the second month of the year—thus Leap Day was born. Caesar added two extra-long months to the year 46 B.C.E. to make up for missed intercalations, and the Julian Calendar took effect on January 1st, 45 B.C.E.
By the 16th century, scholars had noticed that time was still slipping—Caesar's calculation that a year lasted 365.25 days was close, but still overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes. This was a problem for the Catholic Church, as the date of Easter had drifted away from its traditional place, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, by roughly ten days. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a modified calendar, one which kept Leap Day but accounted for the inaccuracy by eliminating it on centurial years not divisible by 400 (1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was). The introduction of the Gregorian Calendar marked the last change to the Western calendar as we know it today.
Experts note that the Gregorian calculation of a solar year—365.2425 days—is still not perfect, and thus another correction will be necessary. Thankfully, the Gregorian calendar is only off by about one day every 3,030 years, so mankind has some time before this becomes a problem.
4. Leap Day is often associated with marriage, proposals and flipping gender roles
Who Was St. Patrick?
Curiously, many Leap Day customs have revolved around romance and marriage. Tradition holds that in 5th-century Ireland, St. Bridget lamented to St. Patrick that women were not allowed to propose marriage to men. So legend has it that St. Patrick designated the only day that does not occur annually, February 29, as a day on which women would be allowed to propose to men. In some places, Leap Day thus became known as Bachelor's Day.
This tradition hopped the Irish Sea to Scotland and England, where the British added a twist—if a man rejected a woman's proposal, he owed her a debt of several pairs of fine gloves, perhaps to hide the fact that she did not have an engagement ring. In Greek tradition, however, it is considered bad luck to marry on Leap Day, and statistics suggest that Greek couples continue to take this superstition seriously.
5. People born on Leap Day are called 'Leaplings'
There are only about 5 million people in the whole world who were born on February 29, with the odds of being born on Leap Day standing at about 1-in-1,461. Several famous people—including actress and singer Dinah Shore (born 1916), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (born 1960) and hip-hop artist Ja Rule (born 1976)—are leaplings. Leaplings technically only get to celebrate their birthdays once every four years, but they do get to be part of an elite group.
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U.S. Stocks Climb Off Worst Levels But Close Mostly Lower
Stocks regained ground after an early move to the downside on Wednesday but still ended the day mostly lower. The major averages all finished the day in negative territory following the mixed performance on Tuesday, with the Dow closing lower for the third consecutive session.
After falling by more than 200 points in early trading, the Dow ended the day down just 23.39 points or 0.1 percent at 38,949.02. The S&P 500 dipped 8.42 points or 0.2 percent to 5,069.76, while the Nasdaq slid 87.56 points or 0.6 percent at 15,947.74.
The early weakness on Wall Street came as some traders looked to cash in on the recent strength in the markets ahead of the release of closely watched readings on consumer price inflation on Thursday.
The inflation readings, which are said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve, are expected to show the annual rate of consumer price growth slowed to 2.4 percent in January from 2.6 percent in December.
The annual rate of growth by core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, is also expected to dip to 2.8 percent in January from 2.9 percent in December.
With Fed officials saying they need greater confidence inflation is slowing before they consider cutting interest rates, the data could have a significant impact on the outlook for rates.
Selling pressure waned shortly after the start of trading, however, with the subsequent recovery attempt potentially reflecting a positive reaction to revised data showing the U.S. economy grew by slightly less than previously estimated in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The Commerce Department said the jump by real gross domestic product in the fourth quarter was downwardly revised to 3.2 percent from the previously reported 3.3 percent. Economists had expected the surge in GDP to be unrevised.
"It is only in the topsy-turvy world of Wall Street where bad news can be good news (e.g. lower economic growth is good) because of the interplay between the economy, markets and the Federal Reserve," said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
He added, "In a market environment where people are worried about a Fed keeping rates higher for longer, any drop in economic activity (or inflation) can be seen as another reason why the Fed can cut rates sooner."
Gold stocks turned in some of the market's worst performances on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 1.5 percent.
The weakness among gold stocks came amid a modest decrease by the price of the precious metal, with gold for April delivery edging down $1.40 to $2,042.70 an ounce.
Notable weakness was also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent loss posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.
Steel, airline and networking stocks also moved to the downside on the day, while considerable strength emerged among commercial real estate stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries regained ground after moving lower over the two previous sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell 4.1 basis points to 4.274 percent.
The inflation readings are likely to be in the spotlight on Thursday, although traders are also likely to keep an eye on reports on weekly jobless claims and pending home sales.
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