The European Central Bank released bullish forecasts for the eurozone after announcing it would leave interest rates on hold at record lows following its meeting yesterday. The ECB lifted its growth forecast for the region to 1.5% for 2015, from the 1.0% it predicted in December.

"Looking ahead, we expect the economic recovery to broaden and strengthen gradually," ECB President Mario Draghi said at the post-meeting news conference.

Indeed much of the recent economic data coming out of the European Union has been trending positive. According to Reuters “more than half the eurozone's most important reports on economic data since the start of the year have beaten the consensus forecast. Many have topped the highest prediction.”

For Europe’s boating industry, new car sales provide the closest proxy to consumer demand for high-ticket spending, and the news there has been good too. As detailed in the latest report posted on IBI Plus, new car sales in the EU posted welcome growth of 5.7% for the first time in six years for 2014, up to 12.6 million units.

The gains continued in 2015, with new car registrations in January growing for the 17th consecutive month, up 6.7% to nearly one million units across the EU. January figures were boosted by significant increases recorded in Spain (+27.5%) and Italy (+10.9%), followed by the UK (+6.7%), France (+6.2%) and Germany (+2.6%), especially good news for core countries such as Italy and France where economic growth and consumer spending has been stagnant.

The other encouraging news for European boat and equipment exporters looking to take advantage of the strong economic rebound in America is the euro/dollar exchange rate, which fell to its lowest rate in 11 years this week, at just under $1.10.

Draghi did caution that “the risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area remain on the downside but have diminished following recent monetary policy decisions and the fall in oil prices. He also confirmed that the central bank would start it’s quantitative easing program, aimed at raising eurozone inflation from below zero back towards its goal of just under 2%, and to help boost economies across the 19-country bloc.

For more information on European new car demand, click here to see the full IBI Plus report which presents details on relative market size and share for the 28 individual EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.