The basic materials sector closed the day up 1.4%. BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), Sinocoking Coal and Coke Chemicals Inc ( SCOK), Mines Management Inc ( MGN), and Stillwater Mining Company ( SWC) were all winners today within the basic materials sector with Occidental Petroleum Corporation ( OXY) being today's featured basic materials winner. Occidental Petroleum Corporation rose $2.11 (2.2%) to $97.77 on average volume. Throughout the day, 5.7 million shares of Occidental Petroleum Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.3 million shares.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an oil and gas exploration and production company primarily in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Oil and Gas; Chemical; and Midstream, Marketing, and Other. Occidental Petroleum Corporation has a market cap of $69.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.6, above the average energy industry P/E ratio of 12 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 2.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Occidental as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

On the negative front, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company Limi ( SHI), China Gerui Advanced Materials Group ( CHOP), Clayton Williams Energy Inc ( CWEI), and GeoGlobal Resources Inc ( GGR) were all losers within the basic materials sector with Eni SpA ( E) being today's basic materials sector Loser Spotlight stock.

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 ( XLB) while those bearish on the basic materials sector could consider ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd ( SBM).