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Current Futures: Dow -27.00, S&P -3.60, NASDAQ -6.00

Asian markets are trading mixed, after a release showed that the Japanese economy contracted a record 4% in the first quarter of the year.

Japan’s economy contracted at an unprecedented pace in the first quarter of 2009.The Japanese GDP dropped to a record 4.0% in nominal terms, slightly lower than the forecasted rate of decline. Nevertheless, to make things look worse, the fourth quarter GDP numbers were revised much lower, to -3.8% from -3.3%, also in nominal terms. The biggest drag on the GDP data came from the trade balance, which was severely damaged during the credit crisis, and from inventories, which saw a strong decline over the last few months. Domestic demand plunged 2.6%, the most since the 1970’s, while exports fell 26%, the most on record. 

TheLFB-Forex.com Trade Team notes that the same two components, exports and inventories, contributed to the negative pace of decline in Europe and in the U.S. However, the contraction experienced in the first quarter in Japan was much stronger than the one seen in the developed economies, since Japan has a great exposure to the international trade market, which pretty much has collapsed over the last few months.

In other news, Bank of America was able to raise $13.5 billion by selling common shares a statement showed yesterday. The bank sold 1.25 billion shares at $10.77 each, slightly below the price at which the bank’s shares closed on Tuesday. From where the bank is standing right now, the sale appears to have been a success, since these funds will be used to cover the $33.9 billion shortfall pointed out from the stress test results. TheLFB-Forex.com Trade Team notes that this is another positive sign coming from the financial sector. 

Overnight, the Japanese Nikkei rose 34.57 points (0.37%) to 9,324.86. The Australian S&P/Asx fell 5.50 points (0.14%) to 3,811.80. 

Crude oil for June delivery was recently trading at $59.90 per barrel, lower by $0.25.

Gold for June delivery was recently trading higher by $0.40 to $926.20.

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