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Shipping ETF Returns to Choppy Seas

Reflecting this nation's dominance in global the shipping industry, Greece accounts for the single largest geographic chunk of SEA, with 18.5% of the fund's portfolio. The U.S., Bermuda and Japan are next, at 12.3%, 10.3%, and 10.2% of assets, respectively.

So far, investor interest in SEA has been strong. The fund currently changes hands more than 80,000 times each day, making it adequately liquid for most investors.

Looking to the near and long term future, the forecast for SEA's performance is questionable. Obviously, the fund's heavy exposure to Greece will pose a threat to the fund's future stability as Europe remains embattled in its debt crisis.

Additionally, the recent dismal performance from the Baltic Dry Index may leave some investors concerned about the shipping industry's prospects. The Baltic Dry Index tracks the average shipping rates for dry goods and is typically viewed as a leading macro indicator. Last week, an increase in the supply of vessels and weaker demand caused the index to take a nosedive, suffering its biggest loss since 2008.

With the return of SEA, investors once again have the opportunity to track the performance of the maritime industry from a pure play perspective. The fund's future, however, ultimately depends on the global economy's ability to maintain its footing on the road to recovery.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion Money Management was not long any of the equities mentioned.

Don Dion is president and founder of Dion Money Management, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.

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