Once again the auto industry is proving to be one of the bright spots in this economy. Despite troubles in Europe, General Motors beat earnings expectations thanks in part to strength in the U.S. The company announced today that it had a $1 billion profit in the first quarter of 2012.
GM is still one-third owned by the U.S. government, down from a 60 percent stake at the time of the bailout in 2009. The company has paid back $24 billion of the $50 billion it received then.
"The U.S. economic recovery, record demand for GM vehicles in China and the global growth of the Chevrolet brand helped deliver solid earnings for General Motors," CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement.
Last week Chrysler announced bigger profits numbers than expected. Ford, meanwhile, had $1.4 billion in profit last quarter, though that was lower than Wall Street expectations.
After inching up for the last few weeks, jobless claims fell to 365,000 for the week, moving away from the dreaded 400,000 mark that would be very bad news for the job market.
Another key mile marker for the economy comes tomorrow when the Labor Department releases it jobs report. Analysts are expecting 160,000 jobs to be added in April, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2 percent. March's numbers were disappointing with just 120,000 jobs added.