Current Futures: Dow +45.00, S&P +5.30, NASDAQ +6.00

European Trade: European equity markets surged higher this morning, following very strong trading sessions seen in the Asian and U.S. sessions. U.S. futures also advanced overnight. 

Financials and commodity stocks led the gains in the U.K.’s Ftse. Barclays is again among the top gainers, posting a 7.70% gain today, while RBS rose more than 5%. Only two companies declined out of the 103 listed on the Ftse. On the German Dax, financials are yet again advancing, as it looks like the banking sector has managed to become profitable in the first two months of the year.

In Europe, the auto-industry saw the first attempts of an auto-bailout…sort-of. Eight of the biggest European car-manufacturers received a 3 billion euro loan from the European Investment Bank. Each of the eight car companies, ranging from the luxury car-manufacturer BMW to the truck-maker Scania received 400 million euros. Even though this is the first joint attempt to help the car industry in the Euro-area, the sum is still very small. At best, these companies will use the funds in less than a month. Some further attempts to help the industry will probably be needed, and rather fast.  

Investors saw a good opportunity in General Electric’s shares yesterday, even though Standard & Poor’s downgraded the company’s debt rating. GE’s shares advanced shortly after management announced that the debt downgrade will not affect the company’s earning perspective, and certainly does not affect its financial stability. However, things appear to have changed from yesterday, a Bloomberg report shows. According to the report, GE’s finance unit profits are expected to be considerably weaker this year and next. It is even possible for GE to post a loss from its financial activities, the rating agency has said. Recently, the company’s CEO was saying that GE had enough strength to support its triple-A rating and maintain the annual dividend. It looks like times may have changed though.

Tonight, the Nikkei rose 371.03 points (5.15%) to 7,569.28. The Australian S&P gained 109.70 points (3.39%) to 3,345.20. the U.K. Ftse added 61.14 points (1.65%) to 3,773.20, while the German Dax gained 68.28 points (1.73%) to 4,024.50.

Crude oil declined on light volume tonight. Crude oil for April delivery fell $0.40 to $46.60

Gold retraced some ground, after two days of gains. Bullion for immediate delivery fell $1.10 to $922.60.