One out of the three major indices are trading lower today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 26 points (-0.2%) at 17,225 as of Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,758 issues advancing vs. 1,148 declining with 164 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits up 1.1% versus the S&P 500, which is unchanged. Top gainers within the sector include Plains GP Holdings ( PAGP), up 9.7%, Targa Resources ( TRGP), up 8.1%, Williams Partners ( WPZ), up 5.9%, Energy Transfer Equity ( ETE), up 5.5% and MPLX ( MPLX), up 5.2%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include PetroChina ( PTR), down 1.7%, China Petroleum & Chemical ( SNP), down 0.8%, Exxon Mobil Corporation ( XOM), down 0.8%, Imperial Oil ( IMO), down 0.7% and EOG Resources ( EOG), down 0.7%.

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

3. Williams Companies ( WMB) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Williams Companies is up $0.91 (5.6%) to $17.06 on light volume. Thus far, 3.8 million shares of Williams Companies exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 17.7 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $16.20-$17.30 after having opened the day at $16.20 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $16.15.

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The Williams Companies, Inc. operates as an energy infrastructure company primarily in the United States. The company operates through Williams Partners, Williams NGL (natural gas liquids) & Petchem Services, and Other segments. Williams Companies has a market cap of $12.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 37.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 3 analysts who rate Williams Companies a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Williams Companies as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, generally high debt management risk, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself. Get the full Williams Companies Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Valero Energy ( VLO) is up $0.60 (0.9%) to $65.54 on light volume. Thus far, 2.1 million shares of Valero Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.8 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $64.73-$65.93 after having opened the day at $64.98 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $64.94.

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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 has a market cap of $30.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 8.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 11 analysts who rate Valero Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 2 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Valero Energy as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels and solid stock price performance. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full Valero Energy Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Freeport-McMoRan ( FCX) is up $0.23 (2.5%) to $9.50 on light volume. Thus far, 16.0 million shares of Freeport-McMoRan exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 60.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $9.22-$9.73 after having opened the day at $9.25 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $9.27.

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Freeport-McMoRan Inc., a natural resource company, acquires, explores, and develops mineral assets, and oil and natural gas resources. The company explores for copper, gold, molybdenum, cobalt hydroxide, silver, and other metals, as well as oil and gas. Freeport-McMoRan has a market cap of $12.5 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are up 36.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 3 analysts who rate Freeport-McMoRan a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 11 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Freeport-McMoRan as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally high debt management risk, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share. Get the full Freeport-McMoRan Ratings Report now.

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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).