CryptocurrencyLeadershipInvestingClimate ChangeMost Powerful Women

Greece asks for time and Snapchat’s $19 billion valuation — 5 things to know today

February 18, 2015, 1:47 PM UTC
Evan Spiegel, Snapchat
FILE - This Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 file photo shows Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in Los Angeles. Snapchat has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it deceived customers about the disappearing nature of messages they send through its service and collected users’ contacts without telling them or asking for permission. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Photograph by Jae C. Hong — AP

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are up slightly this morning, while earlier in the day European markets rose to a seven-year high on expectations that Greece and its creditors may finally strike a deal. Asian indexes closed the day higher. The markets will be looking to the Federal Reserve this afternoon for any indication that it may raise interest rates soon. In their last statement, Fed policy makers said they would be “patient” when it comes to boosting rates.

Here’s what else you need to know about today.

1. Greeks are asking for some extra time.

Greek officials are asking EU leaders for a little more time to pay the nation’s loans. The loan extension would give Greece an extra six months, but Germany is hesitant to approve the deal. The move is an attempt by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to ensure the country has access to the funds it needs while it figures out a bailout plan that will meet the eurozone’s standards. Whether or not EU leaders would agree to the extra time depends on the language Greece proposes — officials want to know the bailout program will be fulfilled.

2. The Fed gives an update.

As of the Fed’s most recent meeting, policymakers plan to be “patient” when it comes to an interest rate hike. Today, economists and policy makers will be looking for any update to the Fed’s outlook when the Fed releases the minutes of its January policy meeting. At that meeting, the Fed did not rule out an interest rate hike this year. Some officials want to remove the patient language to give the committee more leeway to raise rates by midyear, but others still want the freedom to ensure core pillars of the economy continue to improve. Sluggish inflation and weak overseas growth are concerns, even while the U.S. job market makes strong gains.

3. Sony spins off its sound-and-video business.

Sony (SNE) is looking for growth and has a three-year plan in place to make that happen. Its latest move is spinning off its video and sound segment into a separate wholly-owned unit, similar to a decision it made last year when it spun off its television business. This will allow the Japanese electronics and entertainment company to focus on growth in its movies, music and videogame segments. CEO Kazuo Hirai said more spinoffs may be coming.

4. Swiss officials raid HSBC.

Switzerland isn’t going easy on HSBC (HSBC). Authorities are searching the bank’s Geneva headquarters as part of an investigation into the organization’s alleged money laundering. A city prosecutor said the probe was launched following recent “public disclosures.” Earlier this month, it was revealed that the bank was helping international clients evade taxes via Swiss accounts. The bank published full-page advertisements in many newspapers over the weekend apologizing, and CEO Franco Morra said it had shut down the accounts of clients that didn’t meet “our high standards.”

5. Snapchat’s could be worth $19 billion.

Snapchat, the app that sends disappearing photos and videos, is raking in the big bucks. The Los Angeles-based startup is raising as much as $500 million in a new round of funding, making the company worth nearly $19 billion, reported Bloomberg. It would then be the world’s third-most valuable venture-backed company, trailing only Uber’s $40 billion and Xiaomi’s $45 billion valuations. Snapchat’s valuation has grown rapidly since CEO Evan Spiegel started it in 2011. He turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook in 2013 and then raised funds that valued the company at $10 billion last year.
[fortune-brightcove videoid=3897101853001]