Jeremy Hobson: The stock symbol for the company that kicks off corporate earnings season every quarter is AA, which stands for Alcoa, one of the world's largest aluminum producers. Well, after the markets closed yesterday, Alcoa announced its first quarterly loss since 2009.
And as Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports, the company is blaming the European debt crisis for its troubles.
Stephen Beard: Alcoa lost almost of a quarter of a billion dollars in the last three months of last year, and Europe is largely to blame. Fears that the debt-laden continent could slide into recession have hit confidence hard. All the main industries here that buy aluminum have been affected -- construction, auto, packaging and power supply companies have dialed back. Alcoa is cutting production as a result. Smelters in Italy and Spain will reduce output.
William Adams of Basemetals.com says Alcoa has also been hit by the rising price of oil
William Adams:To make aluminum is a very energy-intensive production process, so the higher energy prices has certainly one factor which would have impacted there.
Alcoa's results reflect more positively on the American economy. Demand from the auto industry there is expected to buoy up aluminum sales. The average age of cars in the U.S. has now reached a record 11.1 years, suggesting a big, pent up demand for replacement vehicles.
In London, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.