Stocks Gain, Energy Sector Takes Hit as Oil Prices Plummet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were higher during the shortened Black Friday session as oil prices plummeted, leading to a rally among airlines and a selloff of energy stocks. 

OPEC agreed not to cut oil production to address oversupply but instead said at a meeting on Thursday that it would maintain current levels of 30 million barrels a day "in the interest of restoring market equilibrium," a statement from the group read.

West Texas Intermediate crude plummeted 6.3% to $69.03. Oil prices have dropped 35% since midyear.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) tumbled 3.2%, Chevron (CVX) fell 5.1% and BP (BP) dropped 4.5%. The Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) declined 5.7%. 

Airline stocks were gaining ground as investors predicted the slip in gas prices might benefit the carriers' profitability. Southwest Airlines (LUV) added 7%, Delta Air Lines (DAL) climbed 6%, and United Continental (UAL) gained 7.5%.

Cruise liners and delivery companies were also seeing a pop. Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Carnival  (CCL) were up 4.6% and 4.8%, respectively, while UPS (UPS)  added 3.7% and FedEx (FDX) climbed 2.5%. 

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

The S&P 500 inched 0.04 higher% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.32%. Tech-heavy Nasdaq futures were up 0.42%.

The S&P 500 scored on Wednesday a record close with trading volumes near 12-month lows as investors clocked out early for the Thanksgiving break.

European markets were trading lower. 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. 

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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