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Airline stocks surge as crude drops below $129 a barrel

New York (Thomson Financial) - Airline stocks were sharply higher Tuesday, with a tumble in crude oil prices helping to fuel gains. The Amex Airline Index climbed 3.7% to 18.69, one session after hitting an all-time low of 17.87 in intraday trading. The airline sector tracker is still down 20% since the end of April, and 46% since the end of 2007.

Helping propel the index is the $3.76, or 2.8%, drop in July crude oil futures to $128.43 a barrel, amid strength in the U.S. dollar. The front-month contract was down as much as $4.01 at the intraday low of $128.18 a barrel. The U.S. Dollar Index was up 0.4% at 72.31.

Among the more active air carrier shares, AMR Corp. rallied 8.5% to $6.86, Delta Air Lines surged 7.5% to $5.91, Continental Airlines hiked up 5.8% to $13.94, US Airways gained 4.8% to $4.38, UAL Corp. ran up 7.1% to $8.02, Southwest Airlines advanced 2.9% to $12.61 and Northwest Airlines tacked on 9.6% to $6.60.