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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 0.7%. By the end of trading, Valero Energy Corporation rose $0.76 (1.4%) to $55.08 on light volume. Throughout the day, 5,692,745 shares of Valero Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8,426,200 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $54.07-$55.38 after having opened the day at $54.19 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $54.32. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: Houston American Energy Corporation ( HUSA), up 22.1%, FutureFuel ( FF), up 17.6%, USEC ( USU), up 17.2% and Penn Virginia Corporation ( PVA), up 15.6%.

Valero Energy Corporation operates as an independent petroleum refining and marketing company in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. It operates through two segments, Refining and Ethanol. Valero Energy Corporation has a market cap of $28.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 7.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. 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 solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

On the negative front, Global Geophysical Services ( GGS), down 60.7%, KiOR ( KIOR), down 39.2%, James River Coal Company ( JRCC), down 13.2% and Ivanhoe Energy ( IVAN), down 12.3% , were all laggards within the basic materials sector with Newmont Mining Corporation ( NEM) 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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