After five straight losing sessions, the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI) is up 0.79% to 12,815.76 as I write. The Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) and S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are also up, 0.97% to 3,020.1 and 0.86% to 1,370.32, respectively.

At 2 p.m. today the Fed is releasing the latest Beige Book, which gives economic data points from the 12 Federal Reserve districts. However, it's last night's after-market reporting by Alcoa (NYSE: AA) that is creating the most buzz.

Alcoa is famous in finance circles for being the first major company to report its results each earnings season. Beyond its early reporting, it's fair to view it as a bit of a bellwether company, as its aluminum is needed globally and is dependent on macroeconomic forces.

Alcoa's up 7.6% today after reporting a surprise $0.09 profit for the first quarter. Analysts expected a $0.04 loss after the fourth quarter's loss of $0.03. Note, though, that last year's first quarter recorded a $0.28 profit.

It noted strength in its aerospace division, with sales up 15%. Perhaps that helps explain fellow Dow component Boeing's (NYSE: BA) 2.5% rise so far today.

On the down side, Alcoa faces pricing pressure due to macro factors ranging from weakness in Europe to excess supply. To help fix the latter, in January it announced plans to reduce capacity by 12%. With its expectations for global demand to rise by 7% in 2012, it is hoping for a "global aluminum supply deficit in 2012."

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