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More signs of a recovery in manufacturing powered a rally, as stocks bounced back from two down days.

For the week, the Dow and S&P rose modestly. The Nasdaq barely budged.

The U.S. manufacturing sector grew at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years last month. The Institute for Supply Management's survey results echoed the strong data from the Chicago Purchasing Manager's Index on Thursday.

Among the stock standouts: First Solar soared after the company raised its full-year profit outlook. That also helped lift Its peers, Yingli Green Energy and Canadian Solar.

On the downside:

Auto shares were mostly lower. U.S. sales rose more than 10 percent, but the government shutdown last month dampened consumers' appetite for new cars. Of the eight top automakers, only General Motors beat sales expectations. Analysts had expected faster growth from Ford and Chrysler, as well as from Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen.

The biggest loser on the S&P was American International Group. Analysts had expected better results from the insurer's consumer business.

Chevron, a Dow component, fell. Its third-quarter profit declined, and revenue missed analysts targets.

In New York, hundreds of people lined up overnight at the flagship Apple Store to buy the iPad Air on its debut, but the excitement wasn't heavy enough to lift the stock. The Air is lighter and boasts longer battery life. But it's pricier than many of its competitors at $499.

CNET senior editor Scott Stein:

(SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) SCOTT STEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, CNET, SAYING:

"It's really something that is addressing the idea that we are expecting something lighter and more portable now that we are familiar with the idea of a tablet, and it's a lot faster. But it's a refinement, so it's a good improvement for somebody that wants to buy it."

On the Continent, stocks retreated from five-year highs as some big European companies reported weak results.

 

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