- ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.5% to 7,075.00
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Investors in the world’s biggest mining companies will this month be watching for signs that mounting cost pressures and the impacts of slowing Chinese growth could further erode record earnings.
Miners are likely to report a drop in profits. The top-five western diversified mining companies, including iron-ore giants Rio Tinto Group, Vale SA and BHP Group Ltd., may see combined 2021 second-half earnings of $73 billion, according to analysts’ estimates, compared to $82 billion in the first half.
Although elevated prices for metals mean profits remain robust on a historical basis, the dip is reflective of the headwinds that developed over the period.
“That’s going to be a theme: With the bumper profits that they’re enjoying, they are rewarding shareholders with dividends rather than ploughing it back into expansion,” said David Bassanese, chief economist at fund manager BetaShares in Sydney. “That shows that there’s not a lot of confidence” for the longer-term, with uncertainty about China at the forefront of concerns, he said.
Threats to economic growth in the world’s largest metals consumer are clouding the outlook for miners — and especially iron-ore companies.
A weekend stay at a newly built prison in Zurich is proving a popular getaway for residents of the Swiss canton.
A notice on the website of the Zurich West Prison had been seeking volunteers to test the new facilities in March before they are opened to real prisoners in April.
“Do you dare?” the prison authorities ask in a call for applicants to spend three nights in the jail from March 24 to 27.
“Just as working as a correctional specialist is a job that not everyone can do, staying as an arrested person is not for everyone either,” it says.
Despite the warnings, more than 600 people volunteered or expressed interest in the short prison stay, which will serve as a test run for staff at the new facility, Swiss newspaper Le Temps, reported. That’s more than double the facility’s capacity of 241 prisoners.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and live in Zurich or work for the canton and will be screened beforehand. Those who make it inside will have to give up their mobile phones and smartwatches but will be given a choice of vegetarian, halal or meat-based meals.
A strip-search, which will be mandatory for real prisoners before entering the jail, will be optional for test subjects.
The prison in Switzerland’s largest city was built after other facilities came under scrutiny for poor living conditions for prisoners. Prison director Marc Eiermann told Le Temps that the test run would allow staff and wardens to familiarize themselves with the new facility.
Volunteers should not expect a “holiday camp,” but would be free to leave at any time, Eiermann said.