updated 7/8/2009 4:44:42 PM ET 2009-07-08T20:44:42

Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, said Wednesday it lost $454 million during the second quarter, as the global recession continued to dampen demand and prices for the lightweight metal.

It was Alcoa's third straight quarterly loss and fresh evidence of slumping orders from key customers in the aerospace, automotive and construction industries. Aluminum makers have struggled since last year with sharply lower orders for the metal used in products ranging from beer cans to jumbo jets.

The weaker demand drove up stockpiles and depressed prices of the metal, and many aluminum makers have responded by curbing production. Analysts say demand is picking up, but excess supplies will keep prices relatively low in the months ahead.

Alcoa, the first of the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies to post results and a bellwether of industrial health, has scaled back its production by about 20 percent. It has undertaken a campaign to cut costs and raise cash, announcing 13,500 layoffs and the planned sale of four business units earlier this year.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa's loss amounted to 47 cents per share for the three months ended in June. During the same period last year, the company earned $546 million, or 66 cents per share.

Excluding restructuring charges, Alcoa's loss in the latest quarter would have been 26 cents per share.

Revenue tumbled 41 percent to $4.24 billion.

Analysts expected Alcoa to lose 38 cents per share on revenue of $3.93 billion, on average, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. Wall Street typically excludes one-time charges in its estimates.

Shares of Alcoa dipped 4 cents to $9.42 in after-hours trading. During the regular session, the stock edged up 5 cents to close at $9.46. During the quarter, Alcoa stock climbed about 36 percent.

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