SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Brazilian unit of Ford Motor Co <F.N> plans to resume 24-hour production at its Camaçari, Bahia, plant, in a sign of optimism with Brazil's economic recovery, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper said on Saturday.

About 400 workers who have been suspended since March, when Ford paralyzed the unit's third shift, will return to the production lines, Estado said.

Lyle Watters, Ford's chief executive for South America, told Estado that Camaçari's third shift will resume in February, with expectations that sales and exports will grow next year, albeit modestly.

"Despite the challenging macroeconomic scenario, the introduction of the third shift is a sign of Ford's stronger performance," Watters told Estado.

Spokespeople for Ford in São Paulo could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Leslie Adler)