Wall Street capped a volatile week with a big advance today, rebounding from a steep sell-off as investors sought bargains and cheered a...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street capped a volatile week with a big advance today, rebounding from a steep sell-off as investors sought bargains and cheered a milder-than-expected drop in a regional manufacturing report.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 261.66, or 2.2 percent, to 12,361.32.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 56 cents to close at $29.18 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained $1.35 to $74.80.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 31.09, or 2.4 percent, to 1,329.51, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 48.15, or 2.2 percent, to 2,258.11.

Today’s gain gives the blue-chip Dow index a gain of more than 3 percent for the week. Broader indexes posted gains of 2 percent to 3 percent for the week. The markets are closed for Good Friday.

Besides the manufacturing reading from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, a plunge in commodities prices gave investors some hope that lower energy and food prices might boost consumers’ discretionary spending and ease inflation concerns. Crude oil fell, while gold prices declined sharply.

Despite the Philadelphia Fed’s upbeat report, economic jitters are far from alleviated. On top of the disappointing jobless claims report, the Conference Board said today that its index of leading economic indicators fell, as expected, for the fifth straight month in February.

The markets are apt to stay volatile for some time, as investors digest news on the economy and the troubled financial sector.

“It’s the every-other-day theory — up one day, and down the next,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates.

Though the week is a shortened one for Wall Street, the volatility packed into four days has made it feel much longer. Nervousness blanketed Wall Street’s open Monday as investors fretted over JPMorgan’s buyout of Bear Stearns at $2 a share when the stock had closed in the prior session at $30. Stocks ended mixed Monday only to soar Tuesday when the Fed cut its benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage point to 2.25 percent. The Dow jumped 420 points, its biggest point gain in more than five years. Then, on Wednesday renwed concerns about the financial sector punctured the gains, sending the Dow down nearly 300.