In the latest sign of a recovering US economy, the Federal Reserve announced on Monday that nationwide industrial production has surpassed peak pre-recession levels for the first time, bringing production to a nearly six year high. Overall industrial production — a measure of manufacturing, mining, and utility output — increased a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in November over the prior month. The biggest gains were in utilities, which are now performing 20 percent better than 2007 levels, and mining, while manufacturing saw only a smaller bump and remains slightly below pre-recession levels.

Manufacturing is on the rise, however. Output has increased four quarters in a row, with large gains coming from the auto and consumer electronics industries. It's a major gain for the auto industry too, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that motor-vehicle assembly is now at an eight-year peak. The Fed is expected to begin winding down select stimulus plans in response to growing signals of the US economy's improvement, reports The New York Times. Those changes may not happen immediately, but it appears that the Fed is finally becoming comfortable with the economy's outlook.