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Alcoa exec bullish on auto, construction

Keywords: Tags  Alcoa, Klaus Kleinfeld, automotive production, building, construction, aluminum, auto forecast, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Alcoa Inc. has presented a bullish outlook for the North American automotive and commercial building and construction end-markets, with chairman and chief executive officer Klaus Kleinfeld forecasting production of "roughly 16 million vehicles" in 2013.

The company expects domestic automotive production to grow as much as 4 percent in 2013 compared with the previous year, he said, noting that the relatively meager growth followed a year in which auto production climbed 16 to 17 percent.

"That (growth) would put production in 2013 roughly at 16 million vehicles, which is close to pre-recession levels," Kleinfeld said in a conference call with analysts following the release of the company’s 2012 earnings results.

The Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer also projected the domestic building and construction market would grow in 2013, with housing starts expected to rise 27 percent and nonresidential contracts awarded by 6 percent.

"This is the most positive surprise. We are expecting growth of 1 to 2 percent for the first time in the last four years," Kleinfeld said.

While North American heavy truck and trailer output is expected to fall 15 to 19 percent in 2013, the "underlying fundamentals are still strong," with the average fleet age coming in at 11 years, he said.

Meanwhile, the North American beverage can packaging market is expected to be flat in 2013.

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