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Sector snap: Airline stocks rally as oil eases

Airline stocks rose Wednesday as oil prices eased further from recent record highs.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Airline stocks rose Wednesday as oil prices eased further from recent record highs.

The Amex Airline Index jumped 2.8 percent to 22.88 in early afternoon trading. Broader indexes also advanced, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 1.1 percent to 12,977.60.

Oil prices pulled back, a day after they surged to a record high near $127 a gallon. Light, sweet crude for June delivery fell $1.02 to $124.78 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Airline stocks often move opposite oil prices because fuel represents one of the industry's biggest costs.

AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, the biggest U.S. carrier, was among the biggest gainers. Its shares rose 50 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $9.14. Continental Airlines Inc. added 94 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $18.56, while United Airlines parent UAL Corp. gained 49 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $14.20. Delta Airlines gained 48 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $7.87.

JetBlue Airways Corp. also advanced. Earlier in the day, Fitch Ratings cut the discount carrier's debt ratings further to junk status, amid concerns about soaring fuel costs and a weakening revenue outlook.

Shares of the Forest Hills, N.Y.-based carrier gained 8 cents to $4.82.

Mesa Air Group Inc. was one of the sector's few decliners, after it said its Air Midwest division will quit flying to 16 smaller cities that depend on the regional carrier to link them to larger airports.

Mesa shares dropped 8 cents, or 11.4 percent, to 65 cents apiece.