Airline Winners & Losers: Delta, AMR - TheStreet

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- The market's anticipation of greater travel demand -- coupled with an eighth day of declines in oil prices -- carried a benchmark airline index to its highest level since January.

The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 13 carriers gained up to 9.6%, hitting its highest intraday level since January 22. The Delta-led climb beat the broader market, which had been helped by agreeably surprising November retail sales data reported by the Commerce Department on Friday.

Investors are clearly impressed by the uplifting news they heard last week about November traffic at several major U.S. airlines. At the same time, the continuous fall in crude oil futures lately has been the longest in six years, according to

Bloomberg.

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Report

and

AMR

(AMR)

are watching closely as the U.S. and Japan work to come to an open-skies agreement that would provide U.S. carriers with more runway space in Tokyo and help determine which airline of the two would be a better partner for the struggling

Japan Airlines

. AMR owns American Airlines.

Delta gained 13.9% to $11.30 and AMR Corp. added 9.3% at $7.70.

US Airways

(LCC)

added 10.5% at $4.80 after it announced Friday that it will launch a new daily nonstop flight between Philadelphia and Anchorage, Alaska, next summer. The Phoenix-based carrier said it will be the only nonstop airline service to Alaska from the Northeastern U.S. Customers may book beginning Saturday.

UAL Corp.,

( UAUA) which owns United Air Lines, closed up by 8.1% at $11. United Airlines wants to pursue a joint venture with Continental Airlines and Japan's All Nippon Airways for flights across the Pacific. Those three carriers already sell seats on each other's planes. A joint venture would allow closer coordination and more revenue sharing. United Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells told analysts on Wednesday that talks are under way between the three airlines for such a joint venture.

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

gained 9.5%, to $17.80, while

Alaska Air

(ALK) - Get Report

finished the day up by 6.8% at $34.70.

Southwest Airlines

(LUV) - Get Report

rose 6.7% to $10.90 and

JetBlue Airways

(JBLU) - Get Report

closed up by 3.7% at $5.90.

The Amex Airline Index ended Friday 6.3% higher at $33.10 or a 6.1% rise over the week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished higher by 66 points, or 0.6%, to 10,472. The S&P 500 rose by 4 points, or 0.4%, to 1106.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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