With earnings on tap and crude prices plunging, airline stocks rallied sharply in today's trading. The AMEX Airline Index (XAL) was last higher by more than 2% on the day, with Alaska Air Group and Delta Air Lines (DAL) jumping nearly 3% a piece so far on the session. Specifically, Alaska Air announced that it raised its one-way fares by $5 to $10 to offset the increased cost of fuel oil, citing rising oil prices.

Elsewhere, Small-cap stocks in the index posted even bigger gains. ExpressJet Holdings shares rallied more than 12% after the company reported a loss of 41 cents per share, compared to analyst expectations for a loss of 25 cents. Meanwhile, UAL Corp. is slated to release its quarterly earnings after the close tonight, with the Street anticipating a gain of $1.88 per share on revenue of $5.36 billion.

Sentiment for UAUA is mixed, with the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) arriving at a middle-of-the-road 0.75 in the 53rd percentile. Meanwhile, short interest accounts for nearly 14% of the stock's total float, and could provide ample fuel for a short-covering rally on a positive report.