UPS, Ford signal improving economy, or as Fox says, the sky is falling

Watching Fox news at the gym every morning is good motivation for burning calories, but I always need a reality check when I get to work.

Here’s a dose of reality that I didn’t see on Fox this morning:

Ford posts best 1Q profit in 13 years

UPS raises 2011 forecast as 1Q profit soars

Consumer Confidence Index rises in April

Together, these reports indicate that consumers are willing to spend, they’re feeling somewhat better about job creation and businesses are reaping the benefit.

Ford has posted eight consecutive quarterly profits. But the most significant sign of Ford’s improving financial health is that the company now has $4.7 billion more cash than debt.

UPS attributes its stunning 66 percent increase in first quarter net income to consumers choosing to spend more to ship packages faster. During the recession, most consumers opted for cheaper, slower shipping alternatives.

Full recovery has a ways to go — the housing market continues to suffer — but the economy is clearly improving despite what some politicians and pundits suggest.