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The U.S. corporate earnings season got off to a good start yesterday when aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) - traditionally the first Standard & Poor's 500 Index company to report - posted a 3.5% profit gain that beat Wall Street estimates.

That strong first-quarter showing was augmented by Alcoa's forecast that worldwide aluminum demand will outstrip production this year. The company predicted an end to a decade-long "overhang" caused by aggressive production in China - a persistent surplus that has forced the aluminum sector to wrestle with persistently low prices.

The upbeat report ignited a rally in Alcoa's shares - and in the broader market.

But don't get too comfortable...

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