Europe is back in business -- and it's in the middle of a car-buying boom

Europe is buying cars — a lot of them.

In fact, European car sales are rising at the fastest pace in 5 and a half years, since the back end of 2009.

Sales rose by 14.6% in the year to June, the most rapid increase since before the onset of the euro crisis. That’s according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

European financial news has been bogged down in Greek bailout talks for months, so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that much of the rest of the EU is rebounding after years of stagnation and recession.

Even more positively, you can see the clear recovery of the economies that got hammered hardest during the euro crisis.

In peripheral countries like Portugal, Spain and Ireland, the number of registrations has risen by more than a fifth in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period in 2014.

Here’s how that looks:

The eurozone’s composite PMI (a major business survey) hit its highest level since mid-2011 in June, signalling that the recovery is still on track — French investment bank BNP Paribas is expecting a 0.5% rise in GDP during the second quarter of the year to be announced soon.

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