The Dow Jones industrial average closed higher Thursday, regaining half of its Wednesday decline, as buyers returned to the market.

The Dow rose 55.76 points to close at 14,606.11. On Wednesday it fell 111. The decline was apparently enough to make stock prices seem attractive again.

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"Investors have been looking for a reason to sell, given the rally we've seen in the market in the past couple of months," said Joseph Tanious, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Funds. "Today you're seeing investors come back into the market and buy on the dip."

In other trading the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.40 percent to 1,559.98. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.20 percent to 3,224.98.

The Dow climbed 10 percent in the first three months of the year, as investors were encouraged by signs the housing market was recovering and hiring was picking up. But in recent weeks investors' confidence in the economic recovery weakened.

There was more discouraging news Thursday. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid last week rose to a four-month high of 385,000, the Labor Department said. The government will issue its closely watched employment report Friday.