Alcoa kicked off earnings season by hitting its earnings target and raising its outlook for global aluminum demand on Tuesday.
The company said it expects global aluminum demand to rise to 7 percent for 2013, up from 6 percent in 2012. (Read more below the video.)
Investors cheered the report, sending shares of the the largest U.S. aluminum producer up after-hours.
"What we're seeing in the world market and our end markets is China is clearly coming back," said the company's CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, on CNBC. "I would not be surprised if we saw GDP growth above 8 percent. Europe is muddling through, better than most people would have expected ... So the eyes are basically on the U.S."
The company posted fourth-quarter earnings excluding items of 6 cents per share, above the quarterly loss of 3 cents a share it posted in the year-earlier period.
Revenue decreased 2 percent to $5.9 billion from $5.99 billion a year ago.
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"On the outlook side, I'm more optimistic that we're going in 2013 into a year that has upside potential compared to where we came from," Kleinfeld said. "The big issue is what is going to happen on the debt-ceiling side because the debate around it is more damaging than resolving the whole thing."
In the end markets, Kleinfeld said "some of the things we are seeing in the U.S. are pretty encouraging" and cited aerospace, automotive, and building and construction.
"All the indicators on building and construction in North America are showing positive signs," he said.
Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 6 cents a share on $5.60 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.
Overall, this earnings season is expected to show modest growth: S&P 500 companies are expected to post earnings growth of 2.8 percent for the fourth quarter, up from the barely positive 0.1 percent growth in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.
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- Reuters contributed to this report.More From CNBC
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