Stocks higher at midday


NEW YORK -- Stocks are higher at midday after an encouraging report from the Labor Department.

Just before noon, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 29 points at 13,374. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up six at 1,438. And the Nasdaq composite index is up eight at 3,060.

The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to 339,000. That's the lowest in more than four years. Economists also look at the four-week average, and that hit a six-month low.

Sprint Nextel stock is up 17 percent following a report that the company could be bought by a Japanese cell phone provider called Softbank.