U.S. stocks mostly rose yesterday as growth in manufacturing provided more evidence that the economy may be picking up, or at least not getting any worse.

U.S. manufacturing grew in September for the first time in four months.

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The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, also said its gauge of manufacturing employment rose following a decline in August. That's a hopeful sign that the government's monthly employment report, due out Friday, could come in better than analysts have been expecting.

Also Monday, the government said U.S. builders spent more on home construction in August, the latest positive sign for the housing market.

Investors are looking for signs there will be more workers with money to spend, said Jerry Webman, chief economist for OppenheimerFunds Inc. "If you're going to manufacture more you're going to employ more people, and if you employ more people you're going to pay them money, and they're going to buy some stuff," Webman said.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 0.27 percent to 1,444.49. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.98 points to close at 13,515.11. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.09 percent to 3,113.53. -- AP