HONG KONG, March 1 (Reuters) - Aluminum Corp of China Ltd (Chalco) (2600.HK: Quote), the country's top aluminium maker, returned to profit in the fourth quarter of last year, but it is wary about the impact the pace of global recovery may have on metals demand.
Chinese aluminium consumption could grow faster than supply this year, and appetites for the lightweight metal in the transport, packaging and building sectors were expected to rise on continued economic recovery in the United States and Europe, analysts and industry watchers said.
"While the global economy is expected to continue its slow recovery in 2011, it still faces significant challenges ahead," Chalco (601600.SS: Quote) said in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday.
"Influenced by factors such as inflation and currency depreciation, the aluminum price is expected to fluctuate upward."
LME aluminium CMAL3 prices, which slumped dramatically during the recession, rose 11 percent last year and are now near a 2-½ year high of $2,585 per tonne.
Shanghai aluminium SAFc3 rose 6 percent in the last quarter although it lagged the LME and was down almost 2 percent in 2010 because of overcapacity in China.
China is the world's largest producer and represents about 40 percent of global demand.
Chalco recorded a net profit of 365.2 mln yuan yuan ($55 million) for the October-December quarter, according to Reuters' calculations based on its 2010 results.
That was higher than an average forecast of 554.3 million yuan from 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The result reversed a loss of 1.14 billion yuan posted a year earlier.
Higher aluminium demand also saw Alcoa Inc (AA.N: Quote), the largest U.S. aluminium producer, report a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit last month.
Hong Kong-listed shares of Chalco surged 3.2 percent on Monday ahead of the results. They have risen 8.5 percent this year, beating a 1.3 percent gain by the Hang Seng Index .HSI.
Chalco has been diversifying into production of other metals and raw materials such as coal, iron ore, rare earths and copper.
It plans to raise up to 9 billion yuan from a private placement of new A-shares to be listed in Shanghai to fund its Xing Xian alumina project and for other purposes.