) --


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Century Aluminum

(CENX) - Get Report

have been among the biggest percentage gainers on both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 today, as analysts projected a sharp climb in metals prices in the first half of next year.

Alcoa stock has shot up 7.1% to $14.50 in the afternoon while Century Aluminum has surged 7.9% to $12.40.

JPMorgan analyst Michael Gambardella predicts a climb in metal, iron ore and coal prices next year fuelled by improved liquidity and industrial production especially in China.

The country's economic growth will likely push up iron ore prices and a momentary demand for coal, according to JP Morgan. However, analysts at the firm question how much longer the momentum of Chinese coal demand will continue beyond 2010, given that there are signs they are using coal imports to develop their own coal industry.

Gambardella's bullish outlook on metals, iron ore and coal prices for 2010 leads him to raise his 2010 profit outlook for a number of metal and mining companies including Alcoa, to $1.45 per share, up from previous expectations of $1.15 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted 56 cents per share, on average. He rates the company "overweight," and raises his price target to $25 from $22.

Gambardella also raised profit estimates for Century Aluminum,

Cliffs Natural Resources

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TheStreet Recommends

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold

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Teck Resources



JP Morgan raised Century Aluminum's price target to $13 from $9, Cliffs Natural Resources' price target to $53 from $44, Freeport-McMoRan's price target to $110 from $95 and Teck Resources' price target to C$47 from C$36 according to



Cliffs Natural Resources is up 0.5% at $43 while Teck is down 0.5% at $35.30. Freeport-McMoRan has also edged lower. It is down 1.5% at $76.60.

New York gold futures hit a four-week low Friday as the dollar strengthened amid much better-than-expected November retail sales data. COMEX February gold earlier was down $4.80 at $1,121.40 an ounce on the COMEX division of NYMEX.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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