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Tickers in this Article: NL, NEWP, BCPC, RGLD, WLK, SCHN, LYB
The market is having a bad day so far. The Nasdaq is trading down 0.2%; the S&P 500 has decreased 0.3%; and the Dow has slipped 0.4%. The basic materials sector is the category of stocks that accounts for companies involved with the discovery, development and processing of raw materials. This sector includes the mining and refining of metals, chemical producers and forestry products. The basic materials sector is sensitive to changes in the business cycle. Because the sector supplies materials for construction, it depends on a strong economy. This sector is also sensitive to supply and demand fluctuations because the price of raw materials, such as gold or other metals, is largely demand driven.

The Basic Materials sector (XLB) is up 0.2% on a bad day for the market overall. The biggest movers in the sector are currently:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
NL Industries (NYSE:NL)5.3 million-4.8%
Newport (Nasdaq:NEWP)8.3 million-3.9%
Balchem (Nasdaq:BCPC).08 billion-2.1%
Royal Gold (Nasdaq:RGLD).08 billion-1.5%
Westlake (NYSE:WLK).24 billion+1.4%
Schnitzer Steel Industries (Nasdaq:SCHN)2.3 million+1.4%
LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB).72 billion+1.3%
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NL Industries (NYSE:NL) is trading at $10.93 per share, down 4.8%. The company's volume is currently 9,838 shares for the day, 0.3 times the current daily average.

Newport (Nasdaq:NEWP) is currently trading at a share price of $12.75, a 3.9% decline. The company's volume for the day so far is 56,502 shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of 331,092 shares.

Falling 2.1%, Balchem (Nasdaq:BCPC) is currently at a share price of $35.89. The company's volume is currently 33,242 shares for the day, 0.3 times its current three-month average.

Royal Gold (Nasdaq:RGLD) is down 1.5% to reach $77.73 per share. The company is currently trading a volume of 149,078 shares.

Westlake (NYSE:WLK) has increased to a share price of $79.64, a 1.4% rise. The company's volume is currently 92,744 shares for the day, 0.2 times its current daily average.

Schnitzer Steel Industries (Nasdaq:SCHN) is currently trading at $30.43 per share, a 1.4% increase. So far today, 91,974 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. This is a sign that there will be less trading activity than there was yesterday.

LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB) is at $55.84 per share after an increase of 1.3%. The company's volume for the day so far is 1.1 million shares, 0.3 times its average over the past three months.

The Bottom Line No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. Tools like valuation ratios and profit margins, however, are only as useful as the context you put them in; remember to take historical data and competitor performance into account.

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