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S&P 500 Captures Six Weeks of Straight Gains as Oil Plummets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 closed its sixth week of straight gains, although its down for the day during this shortened holiday session. Plummeting oil prices proved a boon to retail and airline stocks, balancing out the selloff among energy stocks on the S&P 500. 

OPEC agreed not to cut oil production to address oversupply, but instead said at its Thursday meeting it would maintain current levels of 30 million barrels a day. In a statement, OPEC members said it would take such action "in the interest of restoring market equilibrium."

The crude oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate plummeted 7.7% to $68 a barrel. Oil prices have dropped 35% since mid-year.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend-Paying Stocks for 2014

Exxon Mobil (XOM) tumbled 4.2%, Chevron (CVX) fell 5.4% and BP (BP) dropped 5.5%. The Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) declined 6.4%.

Airline stocks were gaining as investors predicted the slip in gas prices might benefit the carriers' profitability. Southwest Airlines (LUV) added 6.5%, Delta Air Lines (DAL) climbed 5.5%, and United Continental (UAL) gained 8.2%.

Retailers were also rallying, buoyed by the hope that lower gasoline prices will stimulate consumer spending. Walmart (WMT) , Costco (COST) , Target (TGT) and Sears (SHLD) were all higher.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.25% in the final minutes of trading, after spending much of the session flat. The index remained at record highs, just 8 points from its all-time peak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.04%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq futures were up 0.09%.

European markets were mixed as the eurozone reported a slip in inflation in November to 0.3% from 0.4%, while unemployment remained high at 11.5%. In Germany, the region's largest economy, October retail sales surged 1.9%, better than an estimated 1.5% increase.

Stoxx 600 companies are expected to post third-quarter earnings growth of 11.6%, according to Thomson Reuters data. Of the companies that have reported so far, just over half of the index, 52%, have beat analysts' earnings estimates. 

Must Read: 10 Stocks Carl Icahn Loves in 2014

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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