Asian trade: Asian markets opened higher, but swung to losses very quickly in the first minutes of trading. The decline tonight is a consequence of the poor data coming out of the worlds’ leading economies. U.S. futures did not move over the same period.

The financials are again leading the declines tonight, as it seems the conditions in the financial markets will not improve any time soon. Commodity stocks added a few points after OPEC announced it would cut its production for the fourth time in a row. However, the gains seen in raw-material companies were not enough to offset the overall market decline.

The tensions in the financial markets are set to remain high over the coming period, as the world’s economy does not show any signs of recovery. On Friday, a report showed that the labor market is as bad as it was in 1940’s, during the Second World War. The only difference these days is that a bottom in the labor market seems very far away.

 A different report showed that in January Japan had the first current account deficit since 1996, and was the largest on record. This means that the country imported more than it exported something very negative for the Japanese economy because the whole country survives on the export market. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the Japanese economy contracted 3.3%, more than it grew in the last two years. In addition, official sources confirmed that the economy might face a very strong slump this year.

Tonight, the Nikkei fell 57.91 points (0.81%) to 7,115.19. The Australian S&P lost 5.40 points (0.17%) to 3,140.00.

Crude oil advanced, as OPEC is preparing to cut production again. Crude oil for April delivery added $1.05 to $46.55.

Gold traded without a clear direction. Bullion for immediate delivery fell $1.50 to $940.50.