U.S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) were in positive territory this morning despite a steeper-than-expected first-quarter contraction by the U.S. economy.

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the total goods and services output by the United States and is utilized to sum up the income generated by production over a specific time period for the a particular country.  For the first quarter of 2009, this important economic indicator dropped at a 6.1% annual rate, stretching the nation’s contraction in production for three straight quarters, reports Reuters. This decline was well below economists’ expectations of -4.9%.

The good thing is that the GDP numbers indicate that there is hope in the future.  Of all the numbers that go into calculating GDP, consumer spending, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the U.S. economic activity, rose 2.2% and was boosted by a 9.4% jump in purchases of durable goods.

Despite failing some stress tests, banks have actually been upgraded by Fox-Pitt analysts, enabling the sector to advance.  Additionally, Citigroup (C) is pleading with the Treasury to allow them to pay employees bonuses.  The financial giant seeks to pay retention bonuses to infiltrate morale in a firm that has been hit hard by the financial crisis, states the Associated Press.  The Financial Select SPDR (XLF), jumped 3.5% in intraday trading, despite being down 15.9% for the year.

The global economic downturn has really taken its toll on the oil industry.  Europe’s largest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell, reported a 62% decline in first quarter profits and a 49% decline in sales.  To put it into perspective, the company states that it pumped 3.5% fewer barrels of oil per day as compared to the previous year.

On a positive note, cable provider Time Warner (TWX) beat Wall Street’s expectations by reporting earnings of $0.75/share as compared to the $0.58/share forecasted by analysts. Time Warner states that despite higher costs, an increase in subscribers fueled the better-than-expected performance.

President Barack Obama has officially hit the 100-day mark.  These first 100 days for the new administration has surely been busy with a crippled financial system, surging unemployment rates and huge opposition to a record-breaking spending plan.  However, it appears that some of the sectors that Obama has been trying to fix are the ones that have performed the best over the past three months. Hopefully, the President’s administration can keep the ball rolling in a positive direction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 1.9%, the S&P 500 gained about 2.1% and the Nasdaq jumped nearly 2.5% in morning trading.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.