WASHINGTON (AP) - Factory activity expanded in March for the first time since last summer, and measures of new orders and shipments also posted robust gains.

WASHINGTON (AP) Factory activity expanded in March for the first time since last summer, and measures of new orders and shipments also posted robust gains.

The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State manufacturing index rose to 0.6 in March from minus 16.6 the previous month. It was the first positive reading since July. Any reading above zero indicates growth.

A gauge of new orders jumped to 9.6 from minus 11.6. And a measure of shipments jumped to 13.9 from minus 11.6.

The results suggest that manufacturing may finally be showing signs of life after getting hammered for months by weak overseas growth and a strong dollar, which has been cutting into exports and reducing overseas profits.