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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines Group and United Continental Holdings

CHICAGO, Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV-Free Report), JetBlue Airways, Inc. (Nasdaq:JBLU-Free Report), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL-Free Report), American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq:AAL-Free Report) and United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:UAL-Free Report).

Zacks Investment Research, Inc., www.zacks.com

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Ebola Fears Persist, Airlines Continue Slide

The alarming outbreak of the Ebola virus has been taking a toll on global markets over the past few weeks. Now, the second Ebola case in the U.S.  – that of a Dallas nurse who was transferred by air to Atlanta – has once again resulted in a downward spiraling in the stock market, especially impacting airline stocks.

Going by reports, fears about the deadly virus coupled with concerns regarding a global economic slowdown and a resultant high volatility in the dollar has induced a sharp decline in indices across major markets. The Vix volatility index, which measures the volatility of the S&P 500 index, rose 22% to 31.06 in Wednesday trading, representing the highest level since 2012, before it closed at 25.27, up 15% on the day.

Given such uncertainties, market indices such as FTSE, Dow Jones Industrial Average and MSCI Asia-Pacific observed a sharp fall. This is naturally expected to impact airline stocks as well. According to reports, Dow Jones Transportation Average, which includes carriers like Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV-Free Report) and JetBlue Airways, Inc. (Nasdaq:JBLU-Free Report), has lost 8.7% since Sept 18.

Some of the biggest losers in the last five trading sessions were Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL-Free Report), American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq:AAL-Free Report) and JetBlue, among others.

Notably, United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:UAL-Free Report) – which has the highest exposure to Africa because of its Star Alliance – witnessed a drop of 1.44% on Wednesday trading. On the contrary, peers like JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines managed to bounce back, recovering 0.64%, 0.57% and 0.07%, respectively.

Although airline stocks continue to be plagued by Ebola worries, per market news, travel-booking data suggest no major downfall in bookings so far. This lends optimism to the current bleak scenario.

Further, low fuel prices also pose a key factor as to why analysts expect to see strong financial results at most airline companies through the fourth quarter of this fiscal. Nonetheless, a cloud of uncertainty continues to linger over the upcoming third quarter. This could result in a negatively skewed market sentiment before the earnings season.

A rise in economic indicators, increasing fares and consolidation within the sector has allowed the airline industry to smoothly sail through year 2014 up til now. Most of the larger airline companies have seen significant appreciation in their share prices. However, as long as the Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc and generate fear, we believe airline stocks could continue forward in the red.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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