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Dion's Weekly ETF Blog Wrap

Stocks in this article: DBA JJC VWO

Some of Vanguard's most popular products include the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO), the Vanguard MSCI Total Market ETF (VTI), the Vanguard Barclays Total Bond ETF (BND) and the Vanguard MSCI Europe Pacific ETF (VEA).

As the Vanguard's inflows suggest, the firm has done a remarkable job of molding its line of ETFs to meet the desires of today's investors. ETF investors are a frugal bunch who will certainly cross the street for lower expense ratios. Without issuing a single futures-backed commodity ETF or a single leveraged ETF, Vanguard has still managed to become an industry-shaping presence. If ETF investors want what Vanguard's got, the entire industry might start taking a hard look at its roots in order to envision the future of the ETF universe.

At the time of publication, Dion Money Management held no position in the stocks mentioned.

Food Prices Skyrocket

Published 1/05/2011 11:06 a.m. EST

World food prices hit record highs in December, according to a report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization today; an index of 55 food commodities gained for the sixth straight month. With everything from sugar to meat products getting pricier, this headline-making news should cause commodities-focused ETF investors to shift their attention away from precious metals, at least for today.

While funds like SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and the Market Vectors Rare Earth Metals ETF (REMX) have been getting most of the attention from the ETF crowd in recent weeks, funds that track agriculture should soon be on the rise.

Gazing down from my window on the post-blizzard cleanup last week, I touched upon how weather and natural disasters had been so detrimental to crops in 2010 in a post titled " Sowing the Seeds of Profit." Florida had just reported devastating news about certain key consumption crops, and the slow trading week seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to check out a futures-backed fund like the PowerShares DB Agriculture ETF (DBA) or an equities-backed pick like the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO).

In the wake of today's report, however, I'd like to recommend DBA with even more conviction. DBA seems tailored to this particular agricultural calamity, tracking a basket of commodities that includes many of the key foods mentioned in this morning's report. In reporting the record-high prices this morning, the Food and Agriculture Organization noted that sugar and meat in particular had broken through record prices. Sugar, lean hogs and live cattle are all represented in DBA's underlying portfolio.

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