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Alcoa reports larger-than-expected profit for first quarter

Alcoa Inc. kicked off earnings season Monday by reporting a larger first-quarter profit than analysts expected, helped by strong demand for aluminum used to make airplanes and automobiles. The company still sees demand for aluminum growing 7 percent in 2013, with gains cutting across many industries. Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report first-quarter results. Because its products wind up in so many things, from cars and buildings to soda cans, investors study Alcoa's results for hints about earnings at companies in other industries.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Mary Jo White's nomination as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, making her the first former prosecutor to lead the federal agency that oversees Wall Street. White was approved Monday by a Senate voice vote. She will replace Elisse Walter, who has been interim SEC chairman since Mary Schapiro resigned in December. President Barack Obama nominated White, who had served as U.S. attorney in Manhattan from 1993 through 2002.

J.C. Penney is naming Mike Ullman as its new CEO. He takes over from Ron Johnson, who is leaving the company. Ullman was head of the department store chain, based in Plano, Texas, prior to Johnson's appointment to the top spot in 2011 in an effort to halt the chain's sliding earnings. Johnson came under pressure after his turnaround strategy failed to win over shoppers. His drastic changes included slashing the number of sales in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.

United Airlines is putting the Boeing 787 back into its flight schedule, even though the airplane is still grounded by government authorities. United acknowledged on Monday that the plane is in its schedule starting May 31. Travel website Jaunted.com noted a 787 flight from Houston to Denver that day. United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Christen David said the airline will make more schedule changes as it gets a better idea of when the plane will be cleared to fly.

tHE BOTTOM LINE: Ericsson, the Swedish maker of telecommunications equipment, has agreed to buy Microsoft's Mediaroom business, which makes the software that powers AT&T's U-Verse TV service, the companies said Monday. … General Electric Co. will buy the oilfield equipment maker Lufkin Industries Inc. for about $3 billion, furthering an effort by GE to grow its oil and gas operations.

Alcoa reports larger-than-expected profit for first quarter 04/08/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 8:37pm]
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