Current Futures: Dow +76.00, S&P +9.10, NASDAQ +9.75

European markets and U.S. futures advanced, following the release of the official stress test results. However, Asian markets closed lower.

Asian markets closed just below the break-even line, even though the stress test results confirmed the markets’ suppositions. Ten banks will need to raise up to $75 billion, from which almost half would need to be raised by Bank of America alone. During the after-hours sessions, the shares of the banks named in the stress test rose, in a sign that the market is confident the worst is over. In Europe, Commerzbank and Royal Bank of Scotland were the top gainers on the German Dax and on the U.K.’s Ftse, respectively, even though the two banks posted larger than expected losses in the first quarter.

During the early part of the U.S. session, the Non-farm Payroll release is expected to show that the economy shed another 590K jobs in April. Even though the number is huge, investors are optimistic about the release, since it would be additional proof that the pace of contraction has slowed in the labor market. If the estimates are confirmed, the NFP release would be in-line with the data seen over the last two months, which has shown a marked improvement in Q2 compared with Q1. 

Since the start of the current recession, the economy has shed over 5 million jobs, the most, compared with the other recessions since the Great Depression. Trade Team estimates that the U.S. economy will continue losing jobs this year, but the monthly payroll losses should be smaller each month. The unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 8.9% in April, while some analysts expect to see it up to 10% by mid 2010.

Overnight, the Japanese Nikkei declined 33.21 points (0.35%) to 9,352.49. The Australian S&P/Asx slipped 11.70 points (0.30%) to 3,927.00. The U.K. Ftse added 53.84 points (1.22%) to 4,452.52, while the German Dax rose 69.38 (1.44%) to 4,873.48. 

Crude oil for May delivery was recently trading at $57.50 per barrel, up $0.80.

Gold for May delivery was recently trading lower by $0.70 to $914.70.