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Tickers in this Article: ATU, CLF, RIO, ATR, CBT, RGLD, RNF
The Nasdaq has climbed 0.1%, the S&P 500 has declined 0.1% and the Dow remains relatively unchanged so far today. 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 biggest movers in the Basic Materials sector (XLB) (unchanged) are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Actuant (NYSE:ATU)$2.16 billion-6.4%
Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF)$5.03 billion+2.7%
Rio Tinto plc (NYSE:RIO)$107.89 billion-2%
AptarGroup (NYSE:ATR)$3.16 billion+1.9%
Cabot (NYSE:CBT)$2.55 billion+1.8%
Royal Gold (Nasdaq:RGLD)$5.12 billion-1.7%
Rentech Nitrogen (NYSE:RNF)$1.47 billion+1.7%
Broker Summary: TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

After a decline of 6.4%, Actuant (NYSE:ATU) has hit a share price of $27.72. So far today, 1.2 million shares have changed hands.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) has risen 2.7% to hit a current price of $36.26 per share. With 5.5 million shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.7 times the average volume over the last three months.

Rio Tinto plc (NYSE:RIO) is trading at $57.08 per share, down 2%. So far today, the company's volume is 2.2 million shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of six million shares.

AptarGroup (NYSE:ATR) has risen 1.9% and is currently trading at $48.45 per share. At 76,055 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times the average daily volume.

Cabot (NYSE:CBT) is at $40.90 per share after an increase of 1.8%. The company's volume for the day so far is 172,575 shares.

Royal Gold (Nasdaq:RGLD) is down 1.7% to reach $78.09 per share. The company's volume is currently 342,811 shares for the day, consistent with its average over the last three months.

Rentech Nitrogen (NYSE:RNF) has risen 1.7% to hit a current price of $38.48 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 53,842 shares. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 404,529 shares changed hands.

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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