Ford posted its best first-quarter profit since 1998, boosted by strong demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and strong global growth. 

The automaker earned $2.55 billion, or 61 cents a share, in the first-quarter as compared with $2.09 billion, or 50 cents a share, the same period the prior year.  

Excluding one-time costs, the company earned 62 cents for the quarter, zipping past Wall Street's forecast of 50 cents a share. 

“Our team delivered a great quarter, with solid growth and improvements in all regions,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and chief executive officer, in a release. 

The company's domestic sales increased 16%, as high fuel prices led consumers to purchase fuel-efficient cars like the Fiesta, Fusion end Edge.  Many global markets expanded even faster.  Sales in China climbed 18% and sales in India soared 115% on the quarter. 

Shares were up nearly 3% in pre-market trading. 

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