A certain sign that U.S. auto sales are recovering: Automakers are releasing monthly results earlier in the day to catch better news headlines.
Exhibit A: Chrysler Group was up before dawn today for a double blast of good news -- its first post-bankruptcy annual profit about 7 a.m. and a half hour later a 44 percent U.S. sales increase in January.
Compare that with the first year after the 2009 bankruptcy, when Chrysler released sales midafternoon, hoping to bury the latest double-digit loss in the news clutter at the back end of the day.
Chrysler isn't the only automaker wanting to be the first to market so it can shout from the rooftops about its latest victory.
More than a year ago, Ford Motor Co. moved up its release by a half hour or so. Now instead of early afternoon, Ford is another morning announcer.
And lots of news stories — for many general news outlets the only automotive story they care about — would lead with those rising Ford sales.
As General Motors started doing better, it also moved up its release time from midafternoon to late morning, EDT.
With most automakers' sales steadily rising, the monthly sales day now follows the morning sun, starting with the Detroit 3, Nissan North America in Tennessee and the U.S. headquarters of many European automakers on the East Coast. Sales announcements from Japanese and Korean headquarters follow as the sun rises on the West Coast.
Call it the rooster effect. Hey, when you've got good news to tell, why wait?