Current Futures: Dow +98.00, S&P +11.50, NASDAQ +13.00
European Trade: Asian stocks found the strength to close higher, even though, through most of the session, the major indexes traded below the break-even line. European markets and U.S futures also rose overnight, helping the indexes bounce off multi-year lows. 

Although Asian stocks closed higher, overall, the Nikkei actually closed lower. The index extended declines from the last few days of trading, despite the Japanese Finance Minister saying the Finance Ministry would act decisively to prevent the stock market declining, which is trading near 26-year lows, dragging the financial sector into a new credit crunch. Most Japanese banks have important stakes invested in the local equity markets, and declining shares deplete the bank’s capital. Until now, the BoJ has made the decision to buy stocks held by banks, but the Finance Minister will probably give some additional help to the Japanese banking sector.

In Europe, stocks rose from the first minutes of trading. Only three companies in the German Dax declined overnight. The utility agency E.ON declined the most tonight, 6.50%, after it announced that 2009 earnings would decline even more from the 2008 levels. In contrast, the banking sector led the advancers, with Deutsche Bank rising 5.15%.

A similar scene played out in the U.K. Ftse, where the financial stocks led the gains. Barclays and Man Group each rose more than 9%, while 12 companies gained more than 4% in the first few minutes of trading, from which only a few were not from the financial sector.

Tonight, the Nikkei fell 31.05 points (0.44%) to 7,054.98. The Australian S&P gained 30.00 points (0.95%) to 3,184.00. The U.K. Ftse rose 23.38 points (0.66%) to 3,565.78, while the German Dax advanced 56.62 points (1.53%) to 3,748.65

Crude oil advanced, as OPEC is preparing to cut production again. Crude oil for April delivery added $0.25 to $47.30

Gold was sold on positive equity markets. Bullion for immediate delivery fell $6.50 to $911.50.