Current Futures: Dow -18.00, S&P -2.20, NASDAQ -2.50
European Trade: European markets helped the MSCI World Index advance for the seventh day, the longest streak since June 2007. Stocks were pulled higher by the financials ahead of the FOMC meeting, where investors expect new financial measures to be announced. 

Most analysts say that the Fed will announce today a new measure, which would allow the central bank to intervene in the debt market. However, opinions still differ as to whether the Fed will target mortgages in order to bring down the cost of borrowing, or the Treasury market to help the government borrow at cheaper costs. Other than this, the Fed is expected to further downgrade its economic forecast.

Poor economic news may not come as a complete surprise. According to the latest estimates, the European economies face a rather hard period ahead. The European Union said yesterday that the unemployment rate will hit 10% in the following years. This comes after the unemployment rate in the 16-nations dipped somewhere around 7% in the previous month, while it was 8.2% in February. At the same time, the Swiss unemployment rate is projected to reach 5.2% by 2010 according to the Seco Institute, after it bottomed for a long period near the 2.5% benchmark. In the U.S., the most optimistic forecasts are that the unemployment rate will reach 9%.

Additional bearish news comes from the IMF, which sees the global economy contracting 0.6% in 2009. This year’s forecast was downgraded from a 0.5% growth outlook, initially released in January. Taken individually, the U.S. economy is projected to contract by 2.6% this year, while the Euro-zone is expected to contract by 3.2%. By far, the Japanese economy is in the worst position as the IMF sees the economy shrinking by 5% in 2009. In the first phases of the credit crunch, the global economy was expected to revive in the first part of 2009. At the present time, even 2010 seems to be an optimistic target.

Tonight, the Nikkei gained 23.04 points (0.29%) to 7,972.17. The Australian S&P/Asx slipped 5.60 points (0.16%) to 3,446.30. The U.K. Ftse added 33.35 points (0.86%) to 3,890.45, while the German Dax gained 64.68 points (1.62%) to 4,052.45.

Crude oil retreated as a report is expected to show that inventories increased. Crude oil for April delivery fell $0.60 to $48.70

Gold fell as the equity markets are trading in the green. Bullion for immediate delivery declined $6.60 to $910.20.