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Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May’s speech at Lancaster House, London this week spelled out for anyone who hasn’t been listening for the last couple of months exactly what her government intends to do regarding the shape of the U.K.’s eventual relationship with the European Union once their divorce is completed.

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As negotiations have not yet started, nor will they until the British government invokes article 50 this Spring and formally announces its intention to leave the union, May’s speech was more wish list than template for post-Brexit Britain’s working relationship with Europe. Nevertheless, it was broadly well received in Europe both for its tone and because it gave recognition that her priority is for a clean break.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Repatriating control of borders and laws means that the U.K. will be leaving the single market, quitting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and putting into action an independent trade policy. To what extent the U.K. can achieve these objectives while still clinging onto tariff-free trade with Europe is the known unknown. (more…)

China has issued its first batch of crude oil import quotas for non-state companies at 68.81 million metric tons, or 1.38 million barrels per day (bpd), four refining sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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29 Companies received quotas, including independent refiners and trading companies, the sources said, citing an official document.

Architecture Billings End Year Strong

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year positive, with the December reading capping off three straight months of growth in design billings. As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects an approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.

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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 55.9, up sharply from 50.6 in the previous month. This score reflects the largest increase in design services in 2016 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).