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Lofty week closes with quiet day

NEW YORK – An early rally fizzled on the stock market Friday but still left the Standard & Poor’s 500 index up 7.4 percent for the week, its biggest gain since March 2009.

A surprise drop in the U.S. unemployment rate sent stocks higher in early trading, but the gains faded during the afternoon.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 7 percent, its largest weekly gain since July 2009.

Bank stocks rose sharply, continuing a weeklong rally. JPMorgan Chase & Co. jumped 6.1 percent, the most among the 30 stocks in the Dow average. Morgan Stanley leapt 6.9 percent, the second-biggest gain of any stock in the S&P 500 index.

European stock indexes and the euro rose after German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a speech pushing for tighter rules on government spending. Merkel said the 17 countries that use the euro must quickly restore market confidence by making financial controls stricter.

Bond yields for Spain and Italy fell, a sign that investors are becoming more confident in the ability of those countries to pay their debt. France’s CAC-40 and Britain’s FT-SE each rose 1.1 percent.

Markets could be in for more volatility next week as European leaders prepare for a summit to propose new measures for containing the crisis.

Decisive steps by world leaders to right Europe’s teetering economy sent stocks soaring on Wednesday. The Dow jumped 490 points, its biggest gain since March 2009 and its seventh-largest one-day point gain in history. The weekly point gain of 787 in the Dow was the second-biggest in its history, following a 946-point gain in October 2008.

“This market has been gripped with fear for a long time,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “And I think some of these fear factors are beginning to dissipate.”