US airlines surge as Trump suspends flights from China-based carriers

Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters

Airline stocks outperformed the broad market rally on Wednesday after the White House banned Chinese airlines from operating passenger flights to the US.

Alaska Air led the group, leaping as much as 12% through the session. United Airlines followed close behind with an 11.8% climb to intraday highs. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines jumped as much as 8.6% and 8.2%, respectively, while Southwest Airlines gained as much as 7.1%.

The S&P 500’s intraday high sat about 1.3% above its previous close.

The Trump administration’s ban follows the Department of Transportation accusing China of blocking US carriers from the country. The travel order will take effect on June 16. While strict, the ban still allows Chinese carriers to operate one flight to the US for every flight China allows from American firms.

“Should the CAAC adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order,” the Department of Transportation said in its Wednesday order.


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Airline stocks are enjoying their best streaks in months as traders bet on a smooth economic reopening and a pickup in travel demand. The sector staged numerous small rallies through March and April before falling further amid coronavirus travel bans. Most of the aforementioned companies now trade at their highest levels since mid-March.

The White House’s ban serves as President Trump’s latest retaliatory strike against China as trade tensions flare the most in months. China halted some imports of US farm goods on Monday, threatening a key element of the two nations’ phase-one trade deal.

Despite rising US-China stresses, stocks have gained through the month’s first sessions as optimism toward economic recovery outweighs risks from a renewed trade war. The White House’s announcement helped drive indexes to intraday highs and bring the Nasdaq 100 mere points away from topping its record February 19 close.


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