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Wednesday's ETF Winners & Losers

Bundled securities tracking utilities were among the best performers of Wednesday's wild session.

Among individual names, Exelon (EXC), American Electric Power (AEP), Edison International (EIX) and FirstEnergy (FE) were all rising by 2.6% or more.

The Ultra Utilities ProShares (UPW) was adding $1.74, or 2.4%, to $74.73. The PowerShares FTSE RAFI Utilities (PRFU) gained $1.24, or 2.3%, to $56.30. The Utility HOLDRs (UTH) was higher by $2.22, or 1.6%, to $138.73. The PowerShares Dynamic Utilities (PUI) was up 29 cents, or 1.6%, to $18.57.

The United States Natural Gas (UNG) ETF was also climbing, as natural gas was gaining 21 cents to $6.40 per million British thermal units. The ETF added $1.33, or 3.4%, to $40.69.

A ramp up in shares of Merck (MRK) boosted several pharmaceutical ETFs. On Tuesday, a New Jersey court ruled that English and Welsh patients cannot sue the company over health problems emanating from the use of the painkiller Vioxx. Shares of Merck were up 2.3%.

The SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals (XPH) rose 31 cents, or 0.9%, to $33.30. The Pharmaceutical HOLDRs (PPH) was gaining 81 cents, or 1.1%, to $77.70. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Pharmaceuticals (IHE) was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $52.54.

On the other hand, ETFs tracking REITs and the housing sector were lower on fears of spreading credit problems. First, Bear Stearns (BSC) said that it is facing losses in a third mortgage-related fund. Additionally, rumors abounded that Beazer Homes (BZH) had a liquidity problem that could lead to a bankruptcy filing. The company later denied the rumor, but not before it took down the rest of the homebuilder stocks.

The iShares FTSE NAREIT Retail (RTL) was losing $2.50, or 6.2%, to $38.18. The iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs (REM) was lower by $2.35, or 6.7%, to $32.50. The Ultra Real Estate ProShares (URE) slumped $1.19, or 2.9%, to $40.06.

Elsewhere, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction (ITB) was losing 96 cents, or 3.6%, to $25.60. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB) was down 59 cents, or 2.2%, to $25.87.

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