Current Futures: Dow -35.00, S&P -6.00, NASDAQ -5.75

European equity markets opened for the first trading session of the week, after an extended 4 days weekend, and are currently trading in positive territory. Overnight spot markets advanced, but U.S. Futures traded below the break-even line.

The financials were the biggest gainers in the European markets. Barclays rose almost 12%, while RBS and Lloyds rose more than 8%. Also in the U.K. Ftse, commodity stocks posted strong gains as the price of metals rose over the last few sessions. On the German Dax, Commerzbank gained 11.25% in the first part of the trading session. 

The European session started with news that Goldman Sachs is preparing to raise $5 billion by issuing new shares, in order to repay its TARP funds. This comes after Goldman announced better than expected results for the first quarter of 2009. So far, Goldman is the first major bank that is trying to repay the Treasury loan, even though other banks have announced they are planning to do so.

However, Trade Team notes that Goldman might be in too much of a hurry. “The TARP funds were granted to provide additional stability to the banking system, while increasing investors’ confidence. By paying back the loan earlier than expected, Goldman might leave a hole on its balance sheet, something that will reduce the bank’s ability to suffer additional losses.” Trade Team said.

“Moreover, banks (including GS) appeared eager to pay back the TARP funds only after Congress set pay-caps on AIG’s bonuses. One could argue very easily that the decision to pay back the funds borrowed from the Treasury is mostly the executives’ choice, in order to save their own jobs.” Trade Team commented.

Today, Intel and Johnson & Johnson will announced first quarter earnings. These results will be used to gauge consumers’ behavior in the first part of the year, since both companies have direct exposure to the retail market.

Overnight, the Nikkei fell 81.75 points (0.92%) to 8,842.68. The Australian S&P/Asx gained 81.30 points (2.21%) to 3,752.90. The U.K. Ftse gained 18.45 points (0.46%) to 4,002.16, while the German Dax rose 19.84 points (0.44%) to 4,510.96.

Crude oil for May delivery was recently trading at $49.10 per barrel, down $0.90.

Gold for May delivery was recently trading up $1.10 to $896.90.