The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- There are some things that are very easy to understand. For instance, if Anadarko (APC), Devon (DVN) and Noble (NBL) are all hitting 52-week highs on the NYSE, then there's a pretty good chance that iShares DJ Oil & Gas Exploration/Production (IEO) will appear on the "New High List" for exchange-traded funds.
Some things, however, are not as easy to comprehend. For example, the S&P International Dividend Fund (DWX) reached a new peak on March 24, 2011. The fund holds 25% in developed world financial services companies at a time when 30 Spanish banks have just been downgraded and the price of Portugal bonds have hit a euro-lifetime low (yields at a euro-lifetime high).
Naturally, one can make the case that some investors may be shifting to safer harbor dividend producers; DWX has a 4% annualized yield as well as a heavy allocation to utilities. Moreover, DWX may not be exposed to troubled banks, let alone financial institutions with significant sovereign debt risk on their books. Still, I'm not sure that DWX would be my first dividend producing option.Here's a list of 7 unleveraged stock ETFs that appeared on a "New High List" for March 24, 2011:
SPDR S&P Emerging Europe (GUR) is heavily tied to Russian steel and oil. Meanwhile, the aforementioned IEO as well as Rydex Equal Weight Energy (RYE) are direct beneficiaries of Middle East unrest and subsequent need for non-OPEC fossil fuels. PowerShares Cleantech (PZD) also benefits from the rising costs associated with natural resources. Yet, there's more to this story than initially meets the eye. "Cleantech" companies are knowledge-intensive corporations that add economic value (e.g, efficiency, productivity, performance, etc.) to companies needing to reduce natural resources use. China's looking to clean up in the electric car race, while Japan needs to rebuild its infrastructure. For all of these reasons, PZD is benefiting. Speaking of infrastructure rebuilding, First Trust Global Engineering/Construction (FLM) appears set to benefit from years of rebuilding in Japan. Not a lot of shares are traded on this one, but it may be a long-term winner.