Page last updated at 21:53 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 22:53 UK

Alcoa announces surprise profit

Alcoa's headquarters in Pittsburgh
Alcoa said demand for aluminium was now rising

The US aluminium-maker Alcoa has announced a surprise profit after three consecutive quarterly losses.

Analysts had expected another loss but the firm reported a net income of $77m (£48m) in the third quarter.

The result was better than the $454m loss it made in the previous quarter, but was still well below the $268m it made in the third quarter of 2008.

The company said it had benefited from an increase in aluminium prices and cost savings.

The price of aluminium has risen 16% to $1,890 per tonne in the last three months.

'Big improvement'

In the past year the company has been forced to cut jobs, sell parts of the business and reduce production after a fall in orders.

But Alcoa said global demand for aluminium was now on the increase.

"Due to low inventories at distributors and rising shipments, regional premiums are improving and global aluminium consumption is expected to increase 11% in the second half of 2009," the firm said in a statement.

"It's a pretty big improvement," said Brian Hicks from US Global Investors.

"The company has really streamlined itself during these softer economic times."

Alcoa is traditionally the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report quarterly earnings.

Its results are being watched closely for any sign of economic recovery.

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