NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stock prices are rising as investors were encouraged by a decrease in claims for unemployment benefits last week and positive news from companies reporting earnings. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the second-lowest in more than five years. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 70 points to 14,735 points at noon Thursday, or 0.5 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose nine to 1,588, a gain of 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite was up 27 to 3,296, or 0.8 percent. Dow Chemical's profits rose even as revenue slipped because the company cut costs and paid down debt. The stock increased 4 percent. Royal Caribbean rose 7 percent as more people booked vacations compared with the same period a year ago.