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Alcoa Inc.'s second-quarter loss widened as restructuring and other special charges weighed on the company's bottom line, though core earnings improved as the engineered products segment's income rose.

Results topped analyst expectations.

Alcoa's average realized price for aluminum totaled $2,237 per metric ton, a 4% decrease from a year earlier and a 6.7% decline from the prior quarter. Shipments of aluminum products fell 2.8% year over year.

The world's largest aluminum maker by revenue has suffered from flagging raw aluminum prices, as a glut of the commodity has weighed on prices of the metal. In response, Alcoa has been cutting production costs by closing expensive smelters. The company is also relying more on high-margin end products less vulnerable to slumping metal prices, such as bolts and wheels for cars and airplanes, and less on basic mining and smelting.

"In our value-add businesses we reached another milestone with record profitability in our downstream business while acting decisively to defy the headwinds of falling metal prices in our upstream businesses," Chairman and Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld said.

Alcoa, typically the first major U.S. company to report results, is a bellwether because it serves a broad range of industries. It reaffirmed its forecast that global demand for aluminum will rise 7% this year.

The company posted a second-quarter loss of $119 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $2 million, or breakeven a share.

The latest period included $195 million in special items related to the closing of smelters, restructuring charges and settlement negotiations related to a government investigation in connection with contracts for the sale of alumina to Alba. Excluding special items, earnings from continuing operations rose to seven cents a share from six cents a share. Revenue fell 1.9% to $5.85 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted earnings of six cents a share and revenue of $5.83 billion.

The company's engineered-products-and-solutions unit, which makes small parts like screws and bolts, saw operating income jump 23% to $193 million. The primary metals division, which makes raw aluminum, recorded a loss of $32 million compared with a year-earlier loss of $3 million.