Current Futures: Dow -10.00, S&P 0.80, NASDAQ -3.00
European Trade: European markets and U.S. futures traded mixed, ahead of the infamous NFP report, which, if estimates are correct, would probably see the U.S. economy continue to move deeper into the recession. Asian shares closed lower on the last trading session of the week.
The major European indexes opened higher, but soon found themselves trading below the break-even line. U.S. futures had a similar story during the overnight session, moving up and down around the neutral line. In the German Dax, the financials again were the biggest decliners. Volkswagen, which is one a the few companies that still shows positive returns from one year ago, grew almost 3%, on better than expected car sales in February.
The Ftse index was mixed between the gainers and decliners. Aviva and Wolseley continued to be the worst performers of the index, both driven lower by poor earnings. In addition, Wolseley plans to raise 1 billion pounds from sales of shares, something that would dilute the current shareholders. On the other hand, in the U.K., Ftse listed banks were among the top gainers, as yesterday the BoE announced it will start buying gilts and corporate debt.
In the early part of the U.S. session, the NFP release is expected to show the U.S. economy lost the biggest number of jobs since 1949. The non-farm payroll release is expected to show there were 647.000 jobs erased in the last month. At the same time, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to a 25-year high, near 7.9%. The NFP’s forecasts range from -500K to -800K, while the unemployment rate ranges from 7.8% to 8.1%
Since December 2007, when the recession officially began, the U.S. economy has shed 3.6 million workers. This makes the current labor market conditions the worst since 1945. Additionally, things might get even worse, as the number of corporate bankruptcies is set to rise in the coming months. Latest rumors suggest Citigroup and GM might join this list.
Tonight, the Nikkei fell 228.54 points (3.07%) to 7,204.95. The Australian S&P lost 59.10 points (0.59%) to 3,185.00.
Crude oil moved very little in the overnight session. Crude oil for April delivery added $0.10 to $43.70
Gold moved higher tonight as traders continue to seek safe havens. Bullion for immediate delivery gained $11.80 to $939.60.