"Optimistic" Putin Says US Already Supplying Arms To Ukraine

Vladimir Putin says he is "more optimist than pessimist" on Ukraine, but warns that there will be "no end to war if Kiev believes in a military solution." Noting that he believes there has been an "overall decrease" in military activity, he notes that Debaltseve was "possible to forecast," and then proclaims:

*PUTIN SAYS U.S. ARMS ALREADY BEING SUPPLIED TO UKRAINE

Of course, we already have "YouTube" proof of American military presence in Ukraine (which for Washington would have been good enough to wage war) but Putin offers no specific proof and adds rather pointedly that "most Ukraine troops want no part of fractricidal war."

Holder Gives 90 Day Ultimatum To Bring "Financial Crisis" Cases Against Bankers

Speaking in Washington this morning, US Attorney General Eric Holder made some rather disturbing (at least for financial market participants) statements, that made him appear to be 'cracking-down':

HOLDER SAYS HE HAS GIVEN U.S. ATTORNEYS 90-DAY DEADLINE TO BRING CASES AGAINST INDIVIDUALS FOR THEIR ROLE IN FINANCIAL CRISIS

Of course, the question is - does that mean after 90-days all bets are off (and everyone goes home free)?

Failed Discipline, Failed Reforms And Grexit: Why The Euro Failed

It's not that difficult to understand why the euro is doomed to fail. Given its structure, there is no other possible outcome but failure. Greece's exit (Grexit) will simply be the first manifestation of the inevitable structural failure of the euro. To understand why this is so, we have to start with two forms of discipline: the market and the state.

Ukraine "Truce" Fails: Withdrawal Deadline Passes, Debaltseve Situation Deteriorating

UPDATE: *POROSHENKO SAYS UN MUST NOT ALLOW FULL-SCALE WAR IN EUROPE

As the game of chicken between Greece and the Eurogroup hots up, it appears another - potentially far more deadly - is escalating in Ukraine as neither side is willing to follow through on the terms of the Minsk Summit peace deal - removing heavy weaponry from the frontlines - as a key deadline passes without agreement. As The Guardian reports, The Ukrainian military have stated that "as soon as the militants cease fire, the Ukrainian side will begin to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline," and the pro-Russian separatists proclaim, "We do not have the right [to stop fighting for Debaltseve]," adding that as far as the truce, "we have everything ready for a mutual withdrawal. We will not do anything unilaterally – that would make our soldiers targets."

Stocks Go Green, Euro Spikes On Report Greece To Ask Request Program Extension Tomorrow

Now where have we seen this before? Surprise contradictory headlines that occur shortly after vehement statements by leaders: *GREECE AIMS TO REQUEST LOAN ACCORD EXTENSION TOMORROW: OFFICIAL

This comes after Varoufakis and Tspiras specifically saying that they will not extend the current loan accord: "Salvation will not come by extending the mistake," adding that compromise on the current program "is not an agreement but a surrender that would complete the euthanasia of our country."

S&P 500 Nears 2,100; Up 120 Points In Feb

With earnings expectations collapsing, macro data disappointing across the board, Ukraine's truce failing, and Grexit looking ever more likely, is it any surprise that the S&P 500 (courtesy of yet another AAPL reacharound) is rapidly approaching the 2,100 level.

Turkey Central Bank Head Faces 2 Years In Jail For Not Lowering Interest Rates

Having questioned the need for an independent central bank a week ago, saying that if they can’t cope with their duties, they will be held accountable, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a lawsuit against the head of Turkey’s central bank, Erdem Basci. As Trend reports, the prosecutor accuses Basci of serious material damage inflicted to Turkey’s citizens as a result of an erroneous interest rate policy of the central bank. One wonders if that gives any ambitious American prosecutors any ideas?

Two-Thirds Of Citi Survey Participants Say Central Banks Are Now Fully In Control

From a Citi global credit survey: "...over 65% of respondents said they believed action from central banks in Europe and the US would be the principal force driving credit index spreads [and] surprisingly, in a year with major political catalysts in Europe, and ongoing regional tensions in the Middle East and Russia, only 4% of respondents felt that geopolitical risk would be the major factor driving spreads.”

As Bank Run Accelerates, Greek Depositors Pray To Saint Mario

Here comes the strawman we've all been waiting for: "Greek deposit withdrawals picked up after talks between Greece and its euro-area creditors on extending its bailout ended in acrimony in Brussels Monday night, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The ECB will likely provide ELA to Greek banks as long as there is a chance of an agreement between Greece and its creditors to extend the current bailout, economists at Barclays Plc including Antonio Garcia Pascual and Thomas Harjes wrote in a client note after the meeting ended Monday. If Greek authorities don’t take up euro area finance ministers’ offer this week, ELA funds to Greek banks would likely be shut down, they wrote."

Is The Bank Of Japan 'Managing' US Stocks Today?

Two months ago we showed, and explained in great detail, how in the new normal the role of gold is nothing more than a funding "currency" to allow the BOJ to sell Yen against it (on a borrowed basis, which is also why the LBMA halted reporting its GOFO data as of the end of February, as it would not be pleasant for the central bank cartel to demonstrate just how much institutional gold shortfall there developed following major BOJ interventions). So for all those who are curious what it looks like when the BOJ "enters the house", here it is...

Homebuilder Sentiment Slides, Buyer Traffic Plunges, Weather Blamed

Homebuilder Sentiment slipped from 57 to 55 in February - missing extyrapolated expectations of a 58 print by the most in over 6 months. Present sales slipped very modestly, future expectations remained flat (and hope-strewn) as Prospective Buyers Traffic tumbled from 44 to 39. Of course, the blame for this weakness and dramatic drop in prospective buyer traffic - The Weather!! Except we note that the Northeast region (one of the hardest hit by the storms) rose from 43 to 48.

David Tepper Dumps 40% Of US Equity Exposure Despite Claiming "Stocks Inexpensive"

At the start of Q4 2014, Appaloosa's David Tepper made a series of statements - dismissing Bill Gross as irrelevant (nope - turmoil caused by PIMCO unwinds roiled credit markets), calling the end of the bond bull market (nope - yields went on make lower and lower lows), and finally proclaiming that stocks were inexpensive and multiples not high. So, one wonders, if stocks were inexpensive and multiples not high, why did Appaloosa dump 40% of its US equity exposure in that quarter (only to end the quarter with even more exuberance proclaiming that stocks could rise another 10% in 2015)? It appears that when David Tepper says "buy", he means "buy... from me."

"Greek Democracy Can't Be Threatened" Defiant Tsipras Warns "Won't Step Back From Promises"

The rhetoric from both sides in Europe is hotting up but we suggest Tsipras' comments seem far more personal and existential than the Eurogroup's beligerence for now: GREEK DEMOCRACY CAN'T BE THREATENED

*TSIPRAS: GREEK GOVT NOT IN A HURRY, WON'T COMPROMISE, WON'T TAKE A STEP BACK FROM PROMISES TO PEOPLE

With a "strong mandate" to save the country, Tsipras adds that he wants "a solution, not rupture."

Silver Crushed On Heavy Volume As WTI Crude Slides Back Below $52

It appears the overenight exuberance at the possibility of a Grexit is fading fast... Silver - already weak overnight - was suddenly monkey-hammered lower on massive volume... WTI is down almost $2 from intrday highs, testing towards $51.50 on heavy volume.