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Airline shares continue to slide

ATLANTA - Shares in several major U.S. airlines slid further Friday, a day after British officials said they foiled a plot to blow up planes crossing the Atlantic.

But the latest slide may have more to do with higher oil prices than with the terror threat itself.

''Oil's back up,'' said Ray Neidl, an airline analyst with Calyon Securities in New York. ''I think the terror thing's over. I think it's more seasonal trends and concerns about the economy, the Middle East and oil prices.''

Crude oil prices rose Friday after dropping more than $2 a barrel a day earlier, as markets reevaluated jet-fuel demand and consumer confidence in the wake of the thwarted airplane attacks.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose 35 cents to settle at $74.35 Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. September Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange climbed 35 cents to settle at $75.63.

After their stocks were pummeled Thursday on word of the terror threat, shares of Continental Airlines Inc. and UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines, continued their slide Friday on the oil price rise. Shares of Houston-based Continental fell $1.70, or 7.1 percent, to close at $22.16 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based UAL fell $1.19, or 5.1 percent, to close at $22.33 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Shares of AMR Corp., parent of the nation's No. 1 carrier American Airlines, fell $1.46, or 7.2 percent, to close at $18.83 on the NYSE, while shares of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. fell $3.33, or 8.2 percent, to close at $37.19 on the NYSE. Shares of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. and Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines Corp., which are both in bankruptcy, are traded over the counter.