Leading the ETF pack this week were the regional banks. Though these institutions have been able to benefit as Washington continues its assault on Wall Street giants, speculation also played a part in these firms' rise over the past few days.
SPDR KBW Bank ETF (KBE) +3.8%
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Regional Banks Index Fund (IAT) +3.2%
SPDR KBW Regional Bank (KRE) +2.1%The U.K. financial goliath Barclays stirred up the regional banking sector on Wednesday when a report indicated that the firm was looking to acquire U.S. retail banking assets. KBE saw an additional rise when Vikram Pandit of Citigroup (C) provided investors with an optimistic outlook for the troubled company. Citigroup accounts for 8% of the fund's index. First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (FBT) +4.5% SPDR S&P Biotechnology (XBI) +2.3% PowerShares Dynamic Biotechnology and Genome Portfolio (PBE) +2% For the second week in a row, the biotech industry was a big winner in the ETF arena. As with last time, the FBT managed to handily beat its SPDR and iShares competitors to lead this health care subsector higher. Helping to power FBT over XBI this week was InterMune's (ITMN) 60% jump on Wednesday. In the past month alone, ITMN has managed to gain more than 120%. This week, the company saw a rise from the optimism that the FDA would approve its experimental drug used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that causes scarring of the lung. After the advance, InterMune is now FBT's top holding, accounting for more than 10% of the fund's total portfolio. Market Vectors Indonesia (IDX) +3% Standard & Poor's raised Indonesia's foreign currency sovereign credit rating on Friday, and the nation's central bank raised growth estimates for 2010 and 2011. The country will be visited by President Obama later this month, and then by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in April. Though the fund is up 9.2% this year, it is still has about 1.5% to go before it surpasses its Jan. 19 high of $68.82.
LosersUnited States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) -4.6% iPath Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN (GAZ) -4.4% United States 12 Month Natural (UNL) -3.7% UNG continues to set new records. The only problem for long investors is that those records are record lows. UNG broke $8 a share this week to close at $7.97. It was the first time the security traded below $8 intraday as well.
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