What: Shares of aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) jumped as much as 12% today as investors bet the company may get some help from competing imports from China. Late in trading shares had settled at a 9% gain on the day.
So what: In a ruling announced late yesterday, the Department of Labor granted Trade Adjustment Assistance to 500 workers at one of Alcoa's aluminum smelters in Washington. The program will provide money and job training to workers who may lose their jobs because of competition from international competitors.
This ruling in and of itself doesn't help Alcoa, but it reinforces the thought that Alcoa's competitive problems can largely be blamed on China, which is accused of dumping metals production on the U.S. Producers have considered bringing a trade case, which could slap tariffs on aluminum imports and help Alcoa's margins.
Now what: There's been a lot of speculation in the metals industry about the impact of China's "dumping" product to prop up its own manufacturers, but the fact of the matter is that the world is oversupplied with aluminum and that's why prices are down. Even if Alcoa and other competitors are able to get tariffs passed, it wouldn't eliminate that supply from the world economy entirely and it may just help domestic margins. That's not enough for me to get bullish on Alcoa today, and I think this pop will be short-lived unless the company sees a long-term increase in prices, which doesn't look to be on the horizon.