NEW YORK (
) -- The best-performing exchange traded fund in the fourth quarter was
Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF
The ETF surged 24% on expectations of higher demand for energy and metals. Besides the Brazil exchange traded fund, seven industrial metals-related funds and two coal funds ranked at the top of the performance charts.
iPath Dow Jones-UBS Platinum Subindex Total Return ETN
was the second-best performer in the fourth quarter, also up 24%. Spot platinum finished the year at $1,465.50 an ounce, up 13%.
Platinum is a precious metal with industrial uses priced in dollars per ounce, but the rally has extended to metals priced by the ton. For the quarter, copper and aluminum each rose 19%. That said, the
PowerShares DB Base Metals Long ETN
The two coal funds,
Market Vectors - Coal ETF
PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio
, made the list with returns of 20% and 18%, respectively. As coal provides about half of U.S. electricity generation, the bitterly cold weather in the Midwest and Northeast during the past three weeks has boosted demand.
Top coal players include
(CNX - Get Report)
. Another holding,
, is an important bellwether as it received approvals from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with mountaintop mining at the Hobet 45 mine in West Virginia.
That signals that the Obama administration won't block coal mining but instead require companies to spend heavily on environmental protections. The extra costs were sufficient to elicit grumbling from Patriot Coal management. After the bruising fight for health-care reform in Congress, the likelihood of stricter energy legislation during an election year was diminished.