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Alcoa on Monday reported weaker-than-expected revenue growth but upbeat earnings for the first quarter and said it expects aluminium demand to rise in 2017.

The company, once considered a bellwether of the world economy, swung to a profit of $225m or $1.21 a share in the three months ended in March. That compares with a loss of $210m or $1.15 a share in the year-ago period. That included $108m of special items largely due to gains from the sale of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.

Adjusting for one-time items, earnings of 63 cents a share topped analysts estimates of 48 cents.

Meanwhile, revenues rose 5 per cent from a year ago to $2.7bn, driven by higher aluminium and alumina prices but were shy of expectations of $2.96bn.

The company — which split from Arconic last year and produces commodity aluminium, alumina and bauxite — projected that global aluminum demand will rise between 4.5 to 5 per cent in 2017 from a year ago. Alcoa expects the bauxite and alumina markets to be “relatively balanced”, while it estimates a surplus of 300,000 to 700,000 metric tons in the aluminium market.

Meanwhile, analysts at Goldman Sachs have projected a small deficit in the aluminium market, after China officially announced that it would cut 30 per cent of its aluminium capacity and 30 per cent of its alumina capacity in an effort to reduce pollution and “to provide ancillary benefits for the Chinese economy – raising Chinese aluminium and alumina producer margins and thus improving bank balance sheets”.

Earlier this month Alcoa said it was moving its corporate headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York and that it was consolidating administrative locations around the globe as it worked to reduce costs. The company said the efforts should result in annual savings of $5m.

The switch comes as Arconic, the US metals and components group that split off from Alcoa last year, has been locked in a long-standing battle with activist investor Elliott Management, which has criticised the company’s corporate overhead expenses and management.

Alcoa shares, which have advanced nearly 19 per cent so far this year, were up 2 per cent in extended trading.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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