Shares of most large U.S. airlines rose modestly Thursday as oil prices fell on weak energy demand from consumers and businesses.
The direction of oil prices hints at what airlines will pay for jet fuel, which rivals labor as the carriers' biggest cost.
The price of benchmark crude oil for December delivery dropped $2.09 to $77.19 a barrel at midday after the government reported consumers and businesses are using less oil and gas.
The report pushed energy stocks lower, dragging down broader indexes including the Dow Jones industrial average, which was off 53 points, at 10,238 in midday trading.
The Amex Airlines Index fell 0.6 percent, with eight of its 13 components lower, including some of its foreign stocks.
In midday trading, shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. rose 13 cents to $8.06; American Airlines parent AMR Corp. gained 11 cents to $5.97; United parent UAL Corp. added 9 cents to $7.39; US Airways Group Inc. picked up 7 cents to $3.30; and JetBlue Airways Corp. rose 11 cents to $5.46.
Bucking the trend, Southwest Airlines Co. shares fell 25 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $9.18; and Continental Airlines Inc. lost a penny to $13.49.