Stocks End Flat, but Post 7% Weekly Gain

Stocks erased most of their earlier gains to finish near the flatline in thin trading Friday, as investors booked profits ahead of the weekend following a robust rally all week. Still, all three major averages posted an impressive gain of over 7 percent for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished slightly lower, but still logged its second best weekly point gain ever and ended in positive territory for 2011.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended narrowly mixed. The S&P logged its best weekly percentage gain since March 2009.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, finished above 27.

For the week, the Dow soared 7.01 percent, the S&P surged 7.39 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 7.59 percent. All 30 Dow components finished higher for the week, led by Boeing and JPMorgan .

And all 10 S&P sectors finished in the black for the week, led by energy and financials. The least positive sector was utilities.

Among key S&P sectors, financials climbed, while health care and utilities lagged.

“Markets have done pretty well all week long so traders are looking to take some profit off the table,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading. “But traders and investors shouldn’t look too much into this.”

Non-farm payrolls increased 120,000 last month, according to the Labor Department, while the jobless rate declined to a 2-1/2 year low of 8.6 percent. Economists had expected for a gain of 122,000.

"Today's jobs report is a game-changer for Main Street," said Schoenberger. "Americans will focus on the drop in the unemployment rate, rather than getting into the weeds of how we got there. Look for confidence and sentiment to improve, which could translate into an improved outlook as we enter 2012."

Earlier, stocks got a boost following a report that the ECB may be gearing up to lend as much as 200 bullion euros ($270 billion) to the IMF to ease the sovereign debt crisis, according to Bloomberg.

Investors will be focusing on the European summit in Brussels at the end of next week as the euro zone leaders are expected to discuss changes to the EU treaty to better enforce fiscal discipline.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to German members of parliament that it was pointless to even consider Eurobonds. Merkel said there was no single quick fix and no fast and easy solution to the euro zone debt crisis, and called for a fiscal union and tighter controls.

And French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would support more severe sanctions for budget sinners in Europe.

Meanwhile, some traders were talking about Republicans in Congress objecting to any further U.S. help for Europe, citing a report from The Hill.

Traders also cited unconfirmed talk of a potential Spanish downgrade.

Comcast , Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are planning on selling Advanced Wireless Spectrumto Verizon Wireless for $3.6 billion. Comcast, which owns more than 63 percent of Spectrum will receive approximately $2.3 billion from the sale. Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal.

Research In Motion tumbled after the BlackBerry maker warned it would fall short of its financial targetsafter taking a huge charge to write down the value of its PlayBook tablet.

Meanwhile, Australia’s high court extended a ban on sales of Samsung’s new tablet. And Apple is also trying to stop the Korean tech giant from selling Galaxy phones and tablets in the U.S.

Among earnings, H&R Block slumped after the tax prepared posted a wider-than-expected loss.

And Big Lots also declined even after the retailer posted earnings that beat estimates and also boosted its full-year outlook.

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Coming Up Next Week:

MONDAY: Factory orders, ISM non-mfg index, Fed's Evans speaks, Biden meets with Papandreou; Earnings from Dollar General
TUESDAY: AmEx CEO speaks, GE Capital investor mtg; Earnings from Toll Brothers
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications, quarterly services survey, oil inventories, consumer credit
THURSDAY: BoE announcement, ECB announcement, McDonald's sales report, jobless claims, wholesale trade, AT&T CEO speaks; Earnings from Costco, Smithfield Foods
FRIDAY: International trade, consumer sentiment, Greek short selling ban expires, EU summit

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