U.S. Markets closed

Sector Snap: Mining and Steel

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of mining companies and steel makers rose Tuesday after aluminum maker Alcoa posted a larger-than-expected first-quarter profit.

The New York-based company said Monday that its results got a boost from strong demand for aluminum used to make airplanes and cars. It added that it still sees demand for aluminum growing 7 percent in 2013, with gains cutting across many industries.

The news implies a pickup in industrial activity and bodes well for companies like Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., which produces iron ore used in steel production as well as coal. Its shares rose $1.57, or 8.4 percent, to $20.36 in afternoon trading after peaking at $20.51 earlier in the session.

Miners also got a boost from increases in prices of metals like gold and copper, which bounced back from a recent slump.

Rio Tinto PLC's U.S. shares rose $2.75, or 6 percent, to $48.72 after reaching $48.80 earlier. In addition to iron ore and aluminum, Tinto produces copper, gold, diamonds, uranium and industrial minerals.

And U.S. shares of BHP Billiton Ltd., which produces aluminum and mines for copper, silver, zinc and other metals, were up $3.17, or 4.7 percent, to $71.22 after going as high as $71.30.

Among steel makers, U.S. Steel Corp. rose 93 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $18.16. ArcelorMittal added 57 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $12.80, and AK Steel Holding Corp. rose 15 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $3.24.

Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report first-quarter results. Because its products are used in so many things — from cars and buildings to drinks cans — investors watch Alcoa's results for hints about earnings at companies in other industries.

Alcoa shares were down 3 cents at $8.36.