Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld is seeing improvements in the U.S. economy and maintains his forecast for aluminum demand doubling until 2020.
Kleinfeld, who talked to CNBC after his company reported a loss of 3 cents a share, meeting expectations, said that loss was caused by restructuring to "improve our competitiveness and respond to softer market conditions. When you look under the hood you see cash is king in a volatile environment. We ended a bumpy year with more cash" —$1.9 billion — "and less debt."
Despite a rising dollar and a decline in growth from some of Alcoa's biggest customers, "we actually do see an air of confidence returning to the economy. You do see some positive indicators."
He said Chinese aluminum production will be affected by the nation's five-year target of 7.5 percent GDP growth and said in some areas production has been hampered by lack of bauxite.
Kleinfeld said pricing pressures were not caused by demand, which was up 10 percent in 2011, but from speculative investors who look at commodities such as aluminum "as a proxy for where the economy is going. As we see a return of confidence, that is going to change."