A market barometer brings us this week's Marketplace Money buzzword: Alcoa

Alcoa is the world's top producer of aluminum products. It's also the first blue-chip company to announce its earnings every quarter, so many analysts use it to predict whether earnings season will be bleak and arctic or sunshine and rainbows.

Alcoa's earnings report came out this week, and though profits were up more than 60 percent, sales didn't meet Wall Street expectations.

Along with similarly cloudy reports from companies like Lucent, it was enough to make some analysts break out the umbrellas and prepare for a downpour.