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) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, Total rose 24 cents (0.6%) to $43.07 on average volume. Throughout the day, 4.1 million shares of Total exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of five million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $42.31-$43.32 after having opened the day at $43.03 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $42.83. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were:

Endeavour International



), up 70.5%,

Altair Nanotechnologies



), up 21.8%,

Synthesis Energy Sys



), up 18.4%, and

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), up 10.5%.

TOTAL S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated oil and gas company worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals. Total has a market cap of $99.17 billion and is part of the


industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.2, above the average energy industry P/E ratio of 6.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 16.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are five analysts that rate Total a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and two rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Total as a


. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front,

Lizhan Environmental



), down 13%,

GeoGlobal Resources



), down 12.8%,

Great Basin Gold



), down 11.3%, and




), down 10.1%, were all losers within the basic materials sector with

Baker Hughes



) being today's basic materials sector loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the basic materials sector could consider

Materials Select Sector SPDR



) while those bearish on the basic materials sector could consider

ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd