NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's ETF winners and losers.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX) 8.6%Throughout the opening weeks of 2011, the markets have moved to a relentless upward trajectory. This week, however, headwinds mounted and fear made a comeback as political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa sent investors fleeing.
In response to these jitters, the fear-tracking VXX and iPath S&P 500 VIX Mid Term Futures ETN (VXZ) witnessed gains throughout most of the week. Although both products took a hit as nerves settled toward the end of the week, it was not enough to unseat VXX from the winners list.
Looking ahead, VXX will likely continue to be interesting to watch. However, as we have seen in the past, volatility-tracking products tend to behave in a wild fashion and should be avoided by conservative investors.
iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (OIL) 9.6%Oil prices surged higher this week as political protests strangled production coming out of nations such as Libya. Supply concerns helped lift OIL and fellow futures-based fund, United States Oil Fund (USO) to levels last seen in early May, 2010.
Oil will likely be in the news during the coming week as investors keep a close watch on the commodities industry. Investors looking for a safe way to access this industry should turn to products aimed at oil and gas producers such as the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP).