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US Airways Leads Airlines to Biggest Gain Since October

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- US Airways Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. surged as jet-fuel prices remained near a five-month low and a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst boosted his earnings estimates for carriers.

US Airways rose 11 percent to $12.16 at the close in New York, leading the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 10 carriers to a gain of 4.9 percent, the most since October. United advanced 5.5 percent to $23.53.

Carriers are benefiting from a 40-cent-a-gallon reduction in jet-fuel prices since February, “representing an annualized $5.5 billion windfall for the industry,” Jamie Baker, a JPMorgan analyst in New York, wrote today in a note to clients. Most analysts haven’t yet worked that into earnings estimates for this quarter, he said.

Baker increased his second-quarter profit estimates for US Airways by 14 cents a share to $1.52, United by 10 cents to $1.85 and Delta Air Lines Inc. by 3 cents to 87 cents.

Jet fuel for immediate purchase in New York Harbor is $2.92 a gallon today, down from a peak this year of $3.39 on Feb. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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