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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 up 1.5%. By the end of trading, Vale rose 51 cents (2.8%) to $18.78 on average volume. Throughout the day, 28.1 million shares of Vale exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 19.7 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $18.63-$19.05 after having opened the day at $18.88 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $18.27. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were:

North American Energy Partners Incorporate



), up 27.9%,

New Concept Energy



), up 19.8%,

Ossen Innovation



), up 17%, and

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TheStreet Recommends

General Steel Holdings



), up 14.9%.

Vale S.A. engages in the exploration, production, and sale of basic metals in Brazil and internationally. The company is also involved in fertilizers, logistics, and steel businesses. Vale has a market cap of $93.13 billion and is part of the

metals & mining

industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 4.2, equal to the average metals & mining industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 14.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are six analysts that rate Vale a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and five rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vale as a


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

On the negative front,

Extorre Gold Mines



), down 17.6%,

Lizhan Environmental



), down 14.3%,

China Shen Zhou Mining & Resources



), down 10.7%, and

Recon Technology



), down 10.2%, were all losers within the basic materials sector with

Silver Wheaton Corporation



) 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