Ford Spikes on CEO's Optimistic Words

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ford (F) shares rose sharply Wednesday following some modestly buoyant remarks by the automaker's CEO.

Speaking at an event in India during which the company unveiled a new car for the Asian market, Ford boss Alan Mulally delivered a rather tepid and uncontroversial statement: that U.S. car demand has been showing signs of recovery, and that car sales stateside would increase over the next two years.

It would, however, prove difficult for car sales not to rise over the next two years. After all, they had fallen earlier this year to levels last experienced during the late Carter administration.

But investors, still hankering for good automobile news of any sort, bid up shares of last-man-standing-in-Detroit Ford by 5% Wednesday. The stock was changing hands late morning at $7.40, up 39 cents, on volume of 50 million shares. Average daily turnover is about 77 million shares.

Ever since cash-for-clunkers, the domestic car business has been extruding intermittent signs of recovery. Mulally's words follow news from General Motors Tuesday that it plans to lift production at three of its plants in order to meet demand for some of its models and alleviate a burgeoning inventory shortage.

Mulally and other Ford brass were in New Dehli to announce the coming production of the Figo, a small car that Ford will market all over Asia and yet another indication that the company will increasingly cast its lot with smaller, more energy-efficient vehicles.

According to reports, Mulally said at the Figo unveiling that Ford expects the small-car segment to double within the next 10 years.

Ford will build the Figo at a new $500 million plant in the city of Chennai, India. It will have the ability to make about 200,000 cars a year.

Shares of other global carmakers were lower Wednesday. The New York-listed issues of Daimler ( DAI) and Volkswagen ( VLKAY) lost 1.3% and 2.6% respectively, while American depositary receipts of the Japanese behemoths -- Toyota ( TM), Honda ( HMC) and Nissan ( NSANY) -- all inched lower by a fraction of a percent.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.

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