Current Futures: Dow -122.00, S&P -14.60, NASDAQ -16.75
European Trade: The European markets booked some strong declines that started since the first few minutes of trading. The U.S. futures fell almost 2%, while the Asian equity markets declined the most in the last few weeks tonight, as the financials continue to have a poor outlook. 

Out of the 30 companies listed in the German Dax, only three opened above the break-even line. A similar situation happened on the U.K. Ftse, where only two companies were holding in the green, out of the 100-listed companies. On both European markets, the financials were leading the declines, with RBS already shedding 15% and Allianz and Deutsche Bank 5% each.

HSBC, one of the few U.K. banks that did not take any money from the government, announced a $5.73 billion profit in 2008, much lower than the projected number. However, the bank is among the only financial institutions that still posted profits in 2008, as much of its income come from emerging economies like Hong-Kong, China and Central America.

Not only did HSBC post profits in 2008, but it is the best performing stock in the U.K. Ftse. The bank’s shares declined 31% during the last year, compared with RBS and Llyoid’s shares, which plunged more than 90%. In order to cut costs and strengthen its balance sheets, HSBC plans to reduce its global workforce by 6100 jobs, sell $17.7 billion worth of shares and close two of its U.S. units. After the announcement, HBOS’ shares fell 8% in today’s trading session.

The closing of two additional U.S. based banks will add another headache for U.S. authorities, since February saw the highest rate of bank failures in the last nine years. Banks continue to file, or investigate, bankruptcy procedures, even though the Fed and the Treasury have made numerous attempts to aide the financial system. In the last few weeks, rumors have circulated that Citigroup and Bank of America might have to be nationalized.

Tonight, the Nikkei shed 288.27 points (3.81%) to 7,280.15. The Australian S&P declined 94.40 points (2.82%) to 3,250.10. The U.K. Ftse fell 111.16 points (2.90%) to 3,718.93, while the German Dax plunged 101.61 points (2.64%) to 3,742.13.

Crude oil fell in the overnight session, on light volume. Crude oil for April delivery fell $1.40 to $43.35

Gold rose tonight as traders see it as a safe haven. Bullion for immediate delivery gained $16.60 to $959.10.