Asian trade: Asian markets are trading lower, following another round of poor data coming from the world developed economies. During the Asian session, the U.S. futures traded mixed.

The major Asian indexes are driven lower by the car-manufacturers and banks, as it happened in the last period. Goods manufacturers seem to follow very closely, as the outlook data looks rather poor.

The biggest Japanese carmakers Honda, Mazda and Toyota declined on average 3% tonight, as the U.S. car sales took another steep dive. U.S. consumer confidence has dropped to record low levels, car-sales plunged again into the double digits as well as the lowest level since 1960. Sales of Asian cars in the U.S. plunged by 34% on average, Toyota having the steepest plunge of 40%, while the sales of the three U.S. car makers were again trimmed in half in February. More likely, Japanese car-manufacturers will also have to turn to their government for help, following GM’s example.

Another important release came tonight from Australia. The fourth quarter GDP data shows the economy contracted 0.5% from the previous quarter, despite analysts’ estimates saying that the economy would expand 0.2%. This was the first negative quarter in the last eight years, even though it was believed (until recently) that the Australian economy was able to withstand the global slowdown. The main downward pressure on the GDP numbers came from the trade balance and the housing market.

Tonight, the Nikkei shed 59.55 points (0.82%) to 7,170.17. The Australian S&P declined 45.70 points (1.42%) to 3,173.50.

Crude oil continues to decline, as the world’s fundamentals are deteriorating. Crude oil for April delivery fell $0.40 to $41.25.

Gold lost some of its appeal as a safe haven, and the pair plunged from $1000. Bullion for immediate delivery gained $1.20 to $914.80.