A huge first quarter for Ford is instilling consumer confidence

(NBC) - A huge first quarter for Ford is encouraging news for the economy: Americans are putting their money where their confidence is.

The latest consumer confidence numbers are the highest since the economic crisis began and big businesses want to capitalize. General Motors is pumping nearly $900 million into five plants and ensuring 1,600 jobs.

Still, not all the signs are positive.

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities are up, modestly, but still 30 percent below their 2006 peak. Experts say at this rate, the recovery won't be a rapid one.

After touring a wind turbine plant in Iowa Tuesday, President Obama sounded upbeat.

"Our economy is growing. Our markets are climbing. Our businesses are beginning to create jobs again," he told the crowd, but with job growth still sputtering he acknowledged there's a lot more work ahead.

A national businesses survey suggests employers are feeling better about the economy and expect to start hiring again soon.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.