3 Stocks Driving The Basic Materials Sector Higher

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

All three major indices are trading down today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 112 points (-0.7%) at 15,897 as of Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 11:45 AM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 970 issues advancing vs. 1,886 declining with 143 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits down 0.2% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.4%. Top gainers within the sector include Pioneer Natural Resources Company ( PXD), up 2.5%, Williams Companies ( WMB), up 2.3%, Devon Energy ( DVN), up 1.9%, Suncor Energy ( SU), up 1.6% and Anadarko Petroleum ( APC), up 0.7%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include YPF Sociedad Anonima ( YPF), down 4.6%, Western Gas Partners ( WES), down 4.4%, Ultrapar Holdings ( UGP), down 2.6%, ArcelorMittal ( MT), down 2.5% and Phillips 66 ( PSX), down 2.3%.

TheStreet would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

3. Ecopetrol S.A ( EC) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Ecopetrol S.A is up $0.23 (0.6%) to $41.81 on average volume. Thus far, 192,635 shares of Ecopetrol S.A exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 303,300 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $41.35-$42.08 after having opened the day at $41.44 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $41.58.

Ecopetrol S.A., an integrated oil company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas Colombia. The company operates in four segments: Exploration and Production, Refining and Petrochemicals, Transportation, and Market and Supply. Ecopetrol S.A has a market cap of $83.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.4, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 31.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are no analysts that rate Ecopetrol S.A a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ecopetrol S.A as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Ecopetrol S.A Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

2. As of noon trading, Statoil ASA ( STO) is up $0.24 (1.1%) to $22.74 on heavy volume. Thus far, 1.1 million shares of Statoil ASA exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.2 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $22.73-$22.88 after having opened the day at $22.78 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $22.50.

Statoil ASA, an integrated energy company, engages in the exploration, production, transportation, refining, and marketing of petroleum and petroleum-derived products in Norway and internationally. Statoil ASA has a market cap of $71.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.5, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 10.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 4 analysts that rate Statoil ASA a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 2 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Statoil ASA as a buy. Get the full Statoil ASA Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

1. As of noon trading, Continental Resources ( CLR) is up $1.35 (1.2%) to $109.35 on average volume. Thus far, 528,918 shares of Continental Resources exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.4 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $106.72-$110.71 after having opened the day at $110.40 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $108.00.

Continental Resources, Inc. engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas properties in the north, south, and east regions of the United States. Continental Resources has a market cap of $20.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.2, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 47.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 12 analysts that rate Continental Resources a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Continental Resources as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. Get the full Continental Resources Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

If you are interested in one of these 3 stocks, 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).

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