Alcoa, the largest US aluminium producer, last night reported a stronger than expected second-quarter profit and raised its estimate for global aluminium consumption.

The company, whose results are often viewed as a bellwether of the US economy, cited strength in several industrial sectors and raised its estimate for aluminium consumption this year, though metal prices have been falling recently.

Net profits were $136m, or 13 cents per share, compared with a loss of $454m, or 47 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 22% to $5.2 billion. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 11 cents per share and revenue of $5 billion.

Alcoa said there was strong revenue growth over the first quarter in several markets, in particular in packaging, commercial transport and construction.

In the past three months, the price of aluminium in London has dropped sharply, from over $2,400 per tonne in April to around $2,000 as weak demand for cars, planes and construction and uncertainty over the strength of the global recovery have weighed on the metal.