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iShares Dow Jones U.S. Regional Banking ETF (IAT)
With strong showings from companies including Alcoa (AA), Google (GOOG) and Wells Fargo (WFC), investors have enjoyed an encouraging start to earnings season. The party is just getting started, though; as we look to the week ahead, an expansive group of companies is gearing up to report.
Regional players can also be found on the list. For those using IAT to track this class of smaller financial institutions, USBancorp (USB) and PNC Financial Services (PNC) will be of particular importance. This duo alone represents nearly a third of the fund's assets. Other notable regional banks to watch include BB&T (BBT) and Fifth Third (FITB). Given the top-heavy nature of IAT, the fund may be left vulnerable to a substantial shake up in the event that any of these names fail to live up to expectations. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) offers a more-diversified take on this corner of the financial sector, making it a better option for conservative individuals. SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) The U.S. housing sector will have plenty of time in the spotlight next week as the markets digest new-home sales, building permits and existing-home sales data. In recent weeks we have seen some troubling signs of deterioration from the residential real estate sector, so analysts, market commentators and investors will be watching closely for signs of a turnaround. REIT-focused funds like the iShares Dow Jones Real Estate Index Fund (IYR) continue to be my preferred choices when looking to venture into real estate. Even these funds should be approached carefully. They are best utilized as small niche holdings. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) Rising fuel prices continue to stand out as one of the biggest factors weighing on the domestic recovery. Not all corners of the energy spectrum have witnessed the same upward action, though. On the contrary, as crude oil prices hover over $100 per barrel, natural gas has continued its multi-year free fall. This past week, the troubled fuel tumbled to levels not seen in a decade. In response, UNG has descended to all-time lows. >>Earnings Just Got Serious for Buffett's Berkshire
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