All three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 216 points (1.2%) at 17,709 as of Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 2,265 issues advancing vs. 694 declining with 124 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits down 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which is up 1.3%. Top gainers within the sector include Imperial Oil ( IMO), up 2.5%, Anadarko Petroleum ( APC), up 1.7%, EOG Resources ( EOG), up 1.4%, Occidental Petroleum ( OXY), up 1.4% and Suncor Energy ( SU), up 1.3%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Kinross Gold ( KGC), down 7.6%, Tallgrass Energy Partners ( TEP), down 7.0%, CF Industries Holdings ( CF), down 6.6%, Teck Resources ( TCK), down 4.2% and Franco-Nevada ( FNV), down 4.0%.

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

3. Apache ( APA) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Apache is up $0.91 (1.6%) to $58.51 on average volume. Thus far, 2.1 million shares of Apache exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 5.0 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $57.07-$59.13 after having opened the day at $58.14 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $57.60.

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Apache Corporation, an independent energy company, explores, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. Apache has a market cap of $21.6 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 29.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 6 analysts who rate Apache a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

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

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2. As of noon trading, Valero Energy ( VLO) is up $0.52 (0.9%) to $54.98 on average volume. Thus far, 2.3 million shares of Valero Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 5.4 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $54.56-$55.54 after having opened the day at $55.02 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $54.46.

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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 $26.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 23.0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 11 analysts who rate Valero Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 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, attractive valuation levels and notable return on equity. 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, Monsanto ( MON) is up $1.90 (1.8%) to $107.90 on heavy volume. Thus far, 9.0 million shares of Monsanto exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $106.67-$109.13 after having opened the day at $106.67 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $106.00.

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Monsanto Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides agricultural products for farmers worldwide. It operates in two segments, Seeds and Genomics, and Agricultural Productivity. Monsanto has a market cap of $44.3 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are up 7.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 7 analysts who rate Monsanto a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Monsanto as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Monsanto 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).