Wall Street finished moderately higher in fitful trading Thursday as investors, still nervous about the economy, decided to buy back into...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street finished moderately higher in fitful trading Thursday as investors, still nervous about the economy, decided to buy back into a stock market pummeled by three straight days of losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 46.90 to 12,247.00 after trading down about 80 points and up about 130. The index remains more than 13 percent below its record close of 14,164.53 Oct. 9.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 40 cents to close at $28.12. Boeing, also a Dow stock, sank 16 cents to $79.75.

Broader stock indicators recovered some ground. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.46 to 1,336.91. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 14.28 to 2,293.03.

With the market having largely priced in the possibility of a recession, many think there are plenty of valuable stocks at cheap prices. Before Thursday, the Dow had fallen this week by 543 points, or 4.26 percent, giving up all of last week’s sharp gains.

Though the market ended up rising Thursday, trading was fickle because of a batch of gloomy data that included declining January sales at major retailers, a December drop in pending sales of homes, and a disappointing outlook from Internet networking supplier Cisco Systems. The major indexes seesawed throughout the day.

“We’re kind of trying to create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear here,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors. “The earnings are lousy, the economic numbers are lousy.”

Investors may have been encouraged to buy back into stocks because of a rise in the dollar, whose decline over the past several months has contributed to worries about inflation and a possible drop in foreign interest in U.S. investments.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners, said the dollar’s advance followed remarks by European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet that the United States and Europe remain economically intertwined. This suggested to investors that strength in other countries can help stabilize the U.S. during its rough patch. Fears of a global economic slowdown have been weighing on stocks around the world.