Current Futures: Dow -65.00, S&P -8.10, NASDAQ -12.50
European Trade: European markets fell during the early trading session, in-line with the U.S. futures. However, Asian markets found the strength to close higher for the first time in four days, as the Japanese government pledged a third consecutive stimulus package.
Most stocks traded below the break-even line in the European session. On the German Dax, the car-manufacturers are trading mixed, even though the sector rose strongly during the Asian session. BMW gained 2.50%, the best performer on the Dax today, while Volkswagen and Daimler, the maker of Mercedes, were pushed somewhat lower. On the U.K.’s Ftse, the financials and commodity stocks led the declines, as oil fell, once again, below the $50 a barrel benchmark. Additionally, Vodafone recorded huge volumes today, as Goldman Sachs added the company to its “conviction buy” list.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Taro Aso, announced a third stimulus bill is in the works, as the economy is set to contract at a record pace this year. The new package is likely to be announced before mid-April.

In the new stimulus package, the government aims to create about 2 million jobs and help the economy recover from the credit crisis. However, the Prime Minister did not provide any additional details about the size of the stimulus, or how it will be implemented. Analysts’ estimate that that with the new fiscal package, Japan will exceed the 2% fiscal deficit that the IMF recommended. The announcement helped Asian equity markets stay positive, even though the U.S. futures were pointing to a weak start on Wall Street, during the Asian session.

Later today, two very important U.S. reports are scheduled for release. First, the ADP report is expected to show that companies shed more than 600K jobs for a fourth consecutive month. The downturn in the labor market started 14 month ago, in which time the economy lost 4.38 million jobs. Today’s ADP report will most likely show that the downturn continued in March, shedding another 660K jobs. The ISM manufacturing report will probably confirm that the manufacturing sector continued to struggle in March.

Tonight, the Nikkei rose 242.38 points (2.99%) to 8,351.91. The Australian S&P/Asx slipped 2.40 points (0.07%) to 3,579.70. The U.K. Ftse fell 42.16 points (1.07%) to 3,883.98, while the German Dax shed 57.51 points (1.41%) to 4,027.35

Crude oil extended the decline seen in the last period. Crude oil for April delivery fell $1.20 to $48.50

Gold continues to trade within the range seen during the last few days of trading. Bullion for immediate delivery fell $4.40 to $920.60.