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Gold, Platinum Rally Catapults Metals ETFs

Stocks in this article: PGMFTM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The top-performing exchange traded funds in November rode the rally in precious metals, such as gold and platinum, as investors sought to protect themselves from inflation.

The iPath Dow Jones-UBS Platinum Subindex Total Return ETN (PGM) was the had the biggest return among ETFs last month, rising 26%. Platinum climbed 9.7% in November, its biggest monthly gain since February 2008. The fund has almost doubled in the past year.

Jewelry aside, platinum is used in pollution-control devices such as catalytic converters in cars. The return to profitability by Ford (F) and Toyota (TM), and the survival of General Motors has helped boost demand for platinum.

The iPath Platinum ETN earned our highest "buy"-level rating of A-plus, outperforming all other exchange-traded products measured by our stock-rating model.

Platinum ended November at $1,453.75 an ounce. While gold may be hitting record highs, the price of platinum is far from challenging its record of $2,301.50, which was set in March 2008. However, renewed industrial demand suggests that gap might become narrower.

The best performing gold ETF in November was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), up 21%. This fund has 14% of its assets in Barrick Gold (ABX), 11% in Goldcorp (GG), 8.8% in Newmont Mining (NEM) and 5.4% in AngloGold Ashanti (AU).

Other metal and mineral funds also gained as the economy showed signs of improvement.

The Market Vectors Steel Index Fund (SLX), which invests in steel and metal producers, rose 15% last month. The fund benefited from outsized returns of 30% from U.S. Steel (X), 26% from AK Steel (AKS) and 26% from Steel Dynamics (STLD).

Coal-fired power plants remain the leading source of electricity in the U.S. The PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio (PKOL), which bets on coal and energy-related mining stocks, climbed 17% in November. The SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (XME) increased 15%, bolstered by the 30% increase in Massey Energy (MEE).

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