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United Airlines (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report is gaining altitude on Wednesday, up 2.6% to $90.17 in midday trading, after the Chicago carrier reported its third-quarter results.

For more than a year, the ~$90 level has kept a lid on United Airlines stock, except for one major rally in Q4 2018 and one rally in July 2019. Other than that, the shares have mostly been range-bound between $77 and $90.

Investors are hoping that shares can break out into year-end, and they're hoping that a bottom-line beat can be the catalyst.

Earnings of $4.07 per share topped expectations by 11 cents, while revenue of $11.38 billion grew 3.5% year over year but missed analysts' estimates by $50 million.

Management also gave a notable boost to the bottom end of its full-year earnings outlook, while giving a slight boost to the top end as well.

But the midpoint of the new range -- earnings of $11.25 to $12.25 a share -- comes up short of consensus expectations, which sit between $11.86 to $11.95 per share, depending on which source investors obtain their estimates from. 

Still, it's positive to see shares moving higher. Let's take a closer look to see what it will take for UAL stock to really take flight.

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Trading United Airlines Stock

Daily chart of United Airlines stock.

As you can see on the daily chart above, United Airlines stock had plenty of trouble pushing through the $90 mark. That range resistance mark dates back to September 2018. It also happens to be the 38.2% retracement for the one-year range.

In other words, we're looking for a close above $90. The fact that the shares were knocked down from session highs of $90.84 shows that traders still respect this resistance zone. A close over it may suggest it's willing to give way.

Above range resistance and the September high is the first upside target at $91.84. Above that and the 23.6% retracement at $92.93 is the next upside target. Should UAL stock clear both marks, investors will be looking for a move north of $97, with the 52-week high hovering up at $97.85.

Like Bank of America's (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Reportpost-earnings rally, United Airlines stock is hitting range resistance after hurdling short-term downtrend resistance. (Incidentally, B of A is Real Money'sStock of the Day.)

If UAL stock can maintain above this prior resistance mark (blue line), it increases the odds of a potential breakout. A move below this mark, however, thrusts the 50-day and 200-day moving averages into the picture, both of which come into play near $86. Below that and a move down to the $80 to $84 area is in the cards.

It helps to keep it simple. In that case, above $90 is bullish.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.