Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street futures are little changed this morning as investors digest revised fourth-quarter GDP numbers that reveal more about the state of the U.S. recovery. European markets are also down slightly, while Asian shares closed the day mixed.
Friday is the last trading day of February, and the Nasdaq composite index is just a handful of points away from the psychologically important 5,000 mark, a level it hasn’t breached since March 2000.
Here’s what else you need to know about today.
1. Germany backs Greek proposal.
The German Parliament has backed Greece’s request to for extra time on its bailout agreement. Greece has been seeking a four-month extension on its bailout with eurozone leaders. The proposal, which was submitted late Monday night and was approved by Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday, now needs to be ratified by eurozone members. Germany’s approval was considered crucial given its eurozone economic dominance, although public opinion in the nation has not been favorable towards Greece.
2. U.S. meets with its southern neighbor.
U.S. and Cuban officials will meet in Washington today to convene talks to restore relations between the two nations. Cuba will be pushing U.S. officials to remove it from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, and the issue could become the linchpin in discussions to restore diplomatic ties. Some Republican lawmakers openly oppose taking Cuba off the state terrorism list, while President Obama said on Dec. 17 that the designation would be reviewed. The other countries on the list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.
3. U.S. growth slower than thought
U.S. fourth-quarter growth numbers were revised lower this morning, to a 2.2% annual rate, showing slower growth at the end of last year than the original 2.6% expansion previously reported by the Commerce Department. The downward change was likely caused by trade and inventories, two of the most volatile components of GDP. December’s trade data hadn’t yet been released when GDP numbers were last calculated, and that report showed a record number of imports. Meanwhile, inventories probably didn’t increase by as much as the government initially estimated.
4. Alibaba preps for another debut.
Alibaba (BABA) is looking to bring its financial services affiliate to the public markets in China as soon as next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The group, known as Ant Financial, could be worth tens of billions of dollars given its most recent funding round. Alibaba spun off the financial business in 2011, well before its record-breaking initial public offering last year. Ant Financial owns the Alipay online payment service, which processes most of the online giant’s e-commerce transactions.
5. The new, worldwide Friday drop.
The music industry has decided it’s time to consolidate worldwide record releases. They’ll now happen on one day of the week: Friday. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) made the final call, which will go into effect this summer. The move is intended to reduce piracy and allow labels and artists to coordinate their marketing efforts on social media, the IFPI’s statement said. Right now, albums are released on Tuesdays in the U.S., on Mondays in the U.K., and on Wednesdays in Japan.