NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- An optimistic jobless claims report helped cap off a positive, albeit holiday-shortened, week of trading. At the closing bell all three of the major indices were in the green.
Though the holidays were on the minds of many, in Washington it was all about health care reform. Before this week, it appeared as though the issue had lost steam and that legislation wouldn't be approved before the holiday recess. However, on Monday, debate on the topic was completed, leading the way to a 60-39 vote in the Senate on Christmas Eve. The legislation must now be reconciled with that approved by the House of Representatives in November. If the final bill is approved by both houses of Congress, it will mark the broadest changes to the U.S. health care system in decades.
Gold took a beating again this week, dropping to less than $1,100 per ounce for a short time as the dollar gained strength. However, this trend was reversed on Friday when the greenback faltered, helping gold recover some of its losses.
With that in mind, here are the winners and losers for this week.
WinnersiShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Fund (ITB) +6.0% SPDR S&P 500 Homebuilders ETF (XHB) +4.3% On Tuesday, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed that, for the third consecutive month, conditions in the housing market improved. Riding this news, homebuilders headed higher, failing to show weakness despite a less-than-positive new-home sales report. PowerShares Dynamic Semiconductors Portfolio (PSI) +5.6% S&P North American Technology-Semiconductors Index Fund (IGW) +4.2% The semiconductor ETFs saw a nice jump this week when top holding Micron Technology (MU) released better-than-expected earnings. As I predicted in my Real Money blog, PSI proved to be the best performer as the semiconductor industry as a whole moved higher. IGW, however, remains a more stable play on the industry for longer-term investors. >>Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll
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