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US Makes Up Its Mind: "The Pro-Russian Separatists Did It, Although We Really Don't Know"

Sounding more and more like a Wall Street economist, it appears US intelligence has made up its mind that pro-Russian separatists shot down the Malaysian Airlines jet in Ukraine... but are not really sure... As WSJ reports, a U.S. official said there are “indicators” that Russian separatists fired the (BUK) SA-11 that took down the plane, but that officials have not reached a definitive conclusion. "There are still a lot of questions," the official said. So - put another way - they have no idea (but know what they would like the answer to be).



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Consumer Confidence Slumps To 4 Month Lows, Biggest Miss Since Dec 2012

This won't help the animal-spirity, growth-is-here, stocks-are-at-all-time-highs-so-that-must-mean-we're-doing-awesome meme that is so often propagandized to the world. UMich consumer confidence for July tumbled to 81.3 (missing expectations of a resurgent 82.9 by the most since Dec 2012) - its lowest since March. Current conditions improved modestly but more worrying is the 3rd month in a row of dropping hope for the future. The Fed may be particularly concerned as 1-year ahead inflation expectations are hovering at highs since Aug 2012.



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As Israel Overruns Gaza, Tanks Ordered To "Open Fire At Anything That Moves"

Health officials in Gaza said 28 Palestinians were killed since the Israeli ground offensive began late Thursday, and as WaPo reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that he has ordered Israel's military to prepare for "a significant expansion" of its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, declaring that tunnels built by Hamas could not be destroyed solely through airstrikes. As The Guardian reports, according to military analyst Alex Fishman, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth: "The tanks, which serve as the heart of the assault force, received an order to open fire at anything that moved." Hamas warned Israel of the "dreadful consequences" of the conflict's escalation, while the US urged its close ally to restrict itself to a "precise" operation.



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Euro Tumbles As Italy Slashes Growth Expectations

The Euro is tumbling as Italy slashes economic growth expectations:

*BANK OF ITALY SEES ITALY GDP UP 0.2% THIS YR, 1.3% IN 2015
*BANK OF ITALY SEES DOWNSIDE RISKS FOR ITALY GROWTH EST. THIS YR

The Bank of Italy expected 0.7% growth for 2014 in January and this shift lowers the estimate below consensus. Of course, there's no need to wqory about a triple-dip recession as Italy raised its 2015 estimate from 1.0% to 1.3% - hockey sticks are back...



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Chinese Home Prices Decline In Record Number Of Cities, Average Sale Price Has Biggest Drop Since Lehman

China’s new-home prices fell in a record number of cities tracked by the government as developers cut prices to boost sales volume.  Prices fell in a record 55 of the 70 cities last month from May, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the statistics. What's worse, and as can be seen on the chart below, prices in Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou fell 0.6 percent each from May, the biggest drop since January 2011, while they declined 0.4 percent in Shenzhen. Prices fell 1.7 percent in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the largest monthly decline among all the cities.  At the national level, China recorded a 0.48% sequential decline in home prices: the largest since at least 2010. And slamming the nail in the Chinese housing market, at least for now, is that the Average Sale Price dropping by 1.5% Y/Y, the biggest drop since Lehman!



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These Are The 10 "Liquidity-Providing" HFT Firms The SEC Is Investigating

Despite a full court press of PR to confirm HFT firms are friends of retail investors and do no wrong; the SEC, it appears, sees it differently. While Mary White has confidently explained the market is not rigged, her agency is now actively seeking tips, complaints, or referrals that show, as The Chicago Tribune reports, evidence of abuse of order types, as well as traditional forms of abusive trading like "layering" or "spoofing" and other issues relating to high-frequency trading that might be violations of the law. Here are the 10 firms (including poster child holy-grail trader Virtu Financial) that the SEC is probing... can you spot the oddly missing one...



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"Air Pocket" Over East Ukraine: Flight MH 17 News Wrap

As expected following promises by virtually all carriers yesterday, today there is a literal "air pocket" above Ukraine, as seen in the most recent update of European air traffic via Flightradar24.com. Expect this pattern to remain well into the future as no airline will ever again, or certainly for the next several years, want to incur liability associated with having a plane shot down after the MH 17 tragedy.



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Frontrunning: July 18

  • Ukraine Says Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Near Russian Border (BBG)
  • Downing of airliner seen as pivotal moment in Ukraine crisis (Reuters)
  • Malaysian Air Flight Took Route Avoided by Qantas, Asiana (BBG)
  • Russian-Made Missile Hit Malaysia Jet, U.S. Officials Say (BBG)
  • Netanyahu Orders Military to Ready Wider Gaza Incursion (BBG)
  • Silvio Berlusconi Underage Sex Conviction Overturned (WSJ)
  • But... but... "economic patriotism" - AbbVie to Buy Shire for $54.8 Billion as Drug Deals Surge (BBG)
  • SEC targets 10 firms in high frequency trading probe - SEC document (Reuters)
  • Art bubble pop: Sotheby's to Lay Off 'Modest' Number of Employees (WSJ)
  • Moar Abenomics: Hermes Sales Trail Estimates as Japanese Revenue Declines (BBG)


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Dazed Global Markets Respond Wearily To Yesterday's Shocking Events

For a centrally-planned market that has long since lost the ability to discount the future, and certainly respond appropriately to geopolitical events, yesterday was a rough wake up call with a two punch stunner of not only the MH 17 crash pushing the Ukraine escalation into overdrive, but Israel's just as shocking land invasion of Gaza officially marking the start of a ground war, finally dragging global stocks out of their hypnotized slumber and pushing risk broadly lower across the globe, even if the now traditional USDJPY and AUDJPY ramp algos have woken up in the past few minutes and will be eager to pretend as if nothing ever happened.



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Was Flight MH-17 Diverted Over Restricted Airspace?

While there are various questions that have already emerged from what was supposed to be Ukraine's "slam dunk" proof confirming Russian rebel involvement in today's MH-17 tragedy, perhaps one just as gaping question emerges when one looks at what is clearly an outlier flight path in today's final, and tragic, departure of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.



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White House Statement Offers Condolences, Blames Russia, Demands "Full, Credible, Unimpeded" Investigation Into MH17 Crash

The White House issued a full statement at 2238ET with regard the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash following President Obama's earlier brief comments: "The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board... It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible... While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training."



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Elizabeth Warren Torches Janet Yellen on Too-Big-To-Fail

Yellen’s acting routine is worthy of an Academy Award. In her role, she plays a caring, sweet, grandmotherly type figure all concerned about the poor and middle-class, when reality points to a career as a staunch, frontline protector of the bankster oligarchy.



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WTF Video Of The Day: Giant Russian Hole Edition

Ripped from the screen of the latest Marvel movie, Reuters reports that researchers are to investigate a giant mysterious hole that has appeared in one of Russia's most isolated northernmost regions



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Is This The Scariest Chart In IBM's History?

Moments ago IBM reported revenues and EPS that both beat expectations and yet the stock is sliding after hours. We may have an idea why, and it has to do with the scariest chart in IBM's history, which we first revealed three months ago and which just got scarier.



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