The economy shrank at its fastest pace in nearly 27 years in the fourth quarter, sinking deeper into recession as consumers and businesses cut spending. The market sold off on the sorry economic news, but major oil companies rose on better than expected results from

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, which vaulted its way onto TheStreet.com's top ten most searched stock list.

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ExxonMobil

on Friday reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a U.S. company, even as its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33% from a year ago. The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which the world's largest publicly traded oil company set in 2007. Exxon's results helped lift fellow oil giants

BP

(BP) - Get Report

and

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

onto the most searched stocks list.

Next, two of the nation's largest banks

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

are back on the list as the idea of a "bad bank" to warehouse toxic assets continues to be discussed on Wall Street and Washington.

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

is back on the list as the heavy equipment maker announces another 2,100 job cuts -- on top of the 20,000 announced Monday.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

was highly searched after Jim Cramer gave it a thumbs up on Mad Money last night. He says it's the only retailer he's recommending.

U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report

made the list after it was downgraded at Goldman Sachs. They gave it a neutral rating and a price target of $23 a share.

Black & Decker

(BDK)

said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 77% on a large restructuring charge and declining demand. The power tools manufacturer also announced 1,200 job cuts and cautioned that its first-quarter results would be hurt by declining sales. Still, it made the list.

Finally,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

is back on the list. The

Wall Street Journal

is reporting that

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

wants to get into the smartphone business, and maybe challenge the iPhone. Good luck with that.

There you have it. The top ten most searched stocks on TheStreet.com.

Before joining TheStreet.com, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.