Despite a sector downgrade, the AMEX Airline Index is up more than 1% ahead of the closing bell. The sector shook off the bad news after crude futures closed at a 1-week low and Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Barry doled out upgrades to UAL Corp. and Alaska Air Group . Barry lowered his view on airlines as a group from neutral to cautious, stating that higher-than-expected oil prices and revenue weakness imply over 20% further downside in most shares.

United Airlines parent UAUA scored an upgrade from neutral to buy, however, and also found itself a place on Goldman's America's buy list. ALK was lifted from sell to neutral on the basis of better relative fundamentals.

It's that 1-week low for crude that's likely giving the airline index the biggest boost at the moment January crude settled at $94.42, a loss of 3.4%, as investors anticipate a possible production increase from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.