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Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 1.0%. By the end of trading, Valero Energy Corporation rose $2.60 (5.2%) to $52.88 on average volume. Throughout the day, 12,495,230 shares of Valero Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8,390,600 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $50.45-$52.88 after having opened the day at $50.46 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $50.28. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: China Precision Steel ( CPSL), up 94.3%, Ikonics Corporation ( IKNX), up 18.2%, Ossen Innovation ( OSN), up 18.1% and Tasman Metals ( TAS), up 17.6%.

Valero Energy Corporation operates as an independent petroleum refining and marketing company. The company operates through three segments: Refining, Ethanol, and Retail. Valero Energy Corporation has a market cap of $26.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 2.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Valero Energy Corporation a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Valero Energy Corporation 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, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

On the negative front, BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), down 13.9%, PostRock Energy ( PSTR), down 8.8%, International Tower Hill Mines ( THM), down 8.8% and USEC ( USU), down 8.2% , were all laggards within the basic materials sector with MarkWest Energy Partners ( MWE) being today's basic materials sector laggard.

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).

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