Dow Transports Surge As Southwest, Alaska Air Stocks Soar Toward Record Highs

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Airline stocks soared Tuesday, sparking a sharp rally in the Dow Jones Transportation Average , after upbeat December operations updates helped push the shares of Southwest Airlines Co. and Alaska Air Group Inc. into record territory. The NYSE Arca Airline Index jumped 2.4%, and the Dow transports rallied 1.2%, with the top six gainers being airline stocks. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 45 points, or 0.2%. Alaska Air shares ran up 5.3%, after the carrier said overall December load factor increased 50 basis points (0.5 percentage points) to 83.1%, as a 140 basis point increase in Alaska Airlines' load factor offset a 140 basis point decline in Virgin America's load factor. Southwest's stock climbed 2.9% after boosting Tuesday its outlook for fourth-quarter revenue per available seat miles (RASM) to a decline of 3% to 4% from a decline of 4% to 5% a month ago. Among other airline stocks, United Continental Holdings Inc.'s rose 3.4%, JetBlue Airways Corp.'s gained 3%, Delta Air Lines Inc.'s surged 3% and American Airlines Group Inc.'s advanced 1.8%.

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