Published: Apr 27, 2010 12:09 PM EDT

     DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford Motor Co. says it earned $2.1
billion in the first quarter, another sign the economy is improving
as people spend more on big-ticket items like cars.
      The Dearborn-based company says net income per share was 50
cents in the quarter. That's an about-face from the same period
last year when it lost $1.4 billion, or 60 cents per share, at the
height of the recession.
      The company says it was profitable in its key North American
market, but it also made money in Asia, Latin America and Europe.
      Ford's U.S. sales rose 37 percent for the quarter and its market
share climbed nearly three percentage points. The automaker is
benefiting from a rebound in auto sales, higher quality rankings
and a boost to its reputation for avoiding government aid.