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The UK economy grew 0.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2016, making it the fastest growing economy in the G7. UK consumers have been fuelling strong growth since the country voted for Brexit last June, defying doom-laden forecasts of a sharp drop-off in spending if Britain voted to leave the EU. Economists maintain their predictions that Brexit will have longer-term economic costs.

The data came as Theresa May prepares to meet Donald Trump. The British prime minister will be the first foreign leader to meet the new US president in the White House, and their meeting will focus on two key areas of agreement: the desirability of a UK-US trade deal and the need for a common front to defeat terrorism. However, Mrs May was accused by opposition politicians of “grovelling” to Mr Trump after details of a speech she will make to a Republican party conference were released. (FT, Guardian, HuffPo)

In the news

The wall muddles Peña Nieto’s trip Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto slammed Donald Trump’s decision to sign an executive order to authorise construction of a border wall. “I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said. Mr Peña Nieto is under pressure to cancel his US trip to meet President Trump in five days. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada had a more blunt response. (FT, NYT, USA Today)

Chinese netizens react The Chinese authorities’ outlawing of the virtual private networks widely used to circumvent the state-imposed “Great Firewall” has caused an uproar among internet-savvy Chinese. One called the move a new Cultural Revolution. (NAR)

Red faces in the Netherlands A Dutch website error meant the details of hundreds of previously private short selling trades by international hedge funds were mistakenly published. They included bets against Dutch banks made by George Soros. The details were quickly removed but hedge funds whose trades were included in the release were not happy. “Who will fine the Dutch regulator?” one manager asked. (FT)

Scientists go rogue Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, Nasa and other US government agencies have established a network of unofficial “rogue” Twitter feeds in defiance of directives requiring them to curb dissemination of information to the public. (Reuters)

US to pull back from global role The new administration is preparing executive orders that could drastically reduce the US role in the UN and take the country out of certain multinational treaties. The draft orders call for a 40 per cent reduction in the remaining US funding towards international organisations, recommending a focus on whether cuts should be made to funding of peacekeeping operations, the International Criminal Court, development aid and the UN Population Fund. (NYT)

It’s a big day for

Brexit The government will publish legislation to trigger Britain’s exit from the EU after the Supreme Court ruled that it could not unilaterally enact Article 50. (FT)

Gambia Adama Barrow, the country’s new president, is set finally to return to his west African nation after a week of uncertainty during which his autocratic predecessor desperately sought to cling to power and regional forces entered the country. (FT)

Food for thought

Teenage fashion traders The most ruthless financial traders are not in the City of London or Wall Street, but teenagers buying and selling clothes and shoes on their smartphones. (FT)

Germany needs to move into the digital fast lane The question urgently being asked is this: as the pillars of German success — its cars and machines — are increasingly mediated by software and digital technologies, could the country’s relative weakness in IT become a fatal flaw? (FT)

Damaged but defiant in Mosul Isis has finally been pushed out of Mosul University after destroying many of its buildings and using others to produce weapons. The faculty and students have returned and are determined that the jihadi occupation will not destroy the respected centre of learning’s legacy. (Jazeera)

Doomsday prep Some of America’s richest people are preparing for the breakdown of civilisation, and New Zealand has become a favoured refuge in the event of a cataclysm. (New Yorker)

Vanishing computers “Moore’s Law”, that the number of components that can fit on to an integrated circuit would double every year, has helped drive the improvement of computers. But for this to continue scientists would have to build computers from components smaller than an atom of hydrogen by 2050. (Guardian)

Video of the day

China’s New Year mass migration The annual ritual is the biggest human migration on earth, with the transport ministry predicting 3bn trips internally in the 40 days leading up to the lunar new year and more than 6m travelling overseas. (FT)

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