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Tickers in this Article: TPCG, CLF, EMN, ASH, TREX, X, SHW
The Nasdaq has decreased 1%, the S&P 500 has declined 0.5% and the Dow has fallen 0.3%, marking a bad morning for the market. 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 down 0.3%, outperforming the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
TPC Group (Nasdaq:TPCG)$644.8 million+11.6%
Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF)$5.47 billion+7%
Eastman Chemical (NYSE:EMN)$8.17 billion-3.2%
Ashland (NYSE:ASH)$5.73 billion-3.1%
Trex Company (NYSE:TREX)$586.2 million-2.5%
US Steel (NYSE:X)$2.86 billion+2.4%
Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW)$15.98 billion-2.1%
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TPC Group (Nasdaq:TPCG) has soared 11.6% to reach a current price of $45.37 per share. The company's volume is currently 749,426 shares for the day, 11.5 times its current three-month average. As a stock moves up or down, it is important to pay attention to the trading volume. This indicates the level of interest: the higher the volume, the more the interest.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) is up 7% to reach a current price of $41.03 per share. The company's volume is currently 3.9 million shares. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is.

Eastman Chemical (NYSE:EMN) has fallen 3.2% and is currently trading at $57.24 per share. At 996,485 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.7 times the current daily average. If a stock is trading on low volume, then there is not much interest in the stock. On the other hand, if a stock is trading on high volume, then there is a lot of interest in the stock.

At $70.77, Ashland (NYSE:ASH) has slipped 3.1%. The company's volume for the day so far is 538,487 shares. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite.

Trex Company (NYSE:TREX) is down 2.5% to reach $34.03 per share. At 85,244 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.4 times the current three-month average. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it.

US Steel (NYSE:X) is at $20.31 per share after an increase of 2.4%. So far today, the company's volume is 4.8 million shares. This is about the same trading activity as there was yesterday. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is.

Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) has decreased to $152.41 per share, a 2.1% fall. At 388,004 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its current daily average. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is.

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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