LOS ANGELES – The $550 million deal between Goldman Sachs Group and federal regulators to settle the highest-profile fraud case stemming from the financial crisis gave each side a measure of what it desperately needed.

The government finally had an answer for critics who say Washington has been too soft on Wall Street. And Goldman Sachs could get on with making money, paying a fine that it can easily afford.

Thursday’s settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission came as Congress passed the most significant financial reform in decades — legislation designed to prevent the type of abuses Goldman was accused of. With the law, President Obama declared a new era of oversight for the financial industry.

Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to resolve allegations that the company misled investors who bought subprime mortgage-related securities created by Goldman. Although Goldman neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, it made a rare concession that its marketing materials for the securities had been “incomplete,” which it acknowledged was a “mistake.”

“It is a major victory for the SEC because you don’t find other settlements in which the defendant admits it made materially misleading disclosure,” said John Coffee, a Columbia University securities-law professor.

Still, the penalty equals 4 percent of Goldman’s $13.4-billion profit last year.

The deal sent the investment bank’s stock price up nearly 10 percent in a surge that began on rumors late in Wall Street’s regular trading session Thursday and continued in the after-hours market after the settlement was announced.

The combined increase added more than $6 billion to the company’s total stock market value.