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Alcoa stops short on supporting LME warehouse overhaul

NEW YORK, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Alcoa Inc said on Thursday it supports the London Metal Exchange's efforts to improve transparency but the U.S. aluminum producer stopped short of endorsing the exchange's sweeping plans to overhaul its warehousing policy.

The U.S. producer has criticized changes to storage rules, which were proposed by the LME in July and are aimed at ending a crisis over distorted supplies and increased prices for metal that has plagued the exchange for years.

Last month, the company warned in a letter to the British and U.S. regulators that the proposal risked damaging the entire aluminum market.

Under regulatory and legal scrutiny and facing pressure from angry metal consumers, the exchange announced on Thursday even tougher rules to deal with long wait times, which end-users say have inflated physical metal prices.

In a statement after the LME's announcement, Alcoa did not refer to the warehousing policy changes and focused only on proposals to improve transparency and the LME's pledge to consider launching new products linked to physical premiums.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on the new beefed-up storage rules, referring Reuters back to the statement.

"The immediate next step is for the LME to provide a clear timeline in which to implement this change," the statement said.

"Alcoa believes this is key to ensuring a more transparent system which increases fairness and improves market function."