While a late rally elevated November from being another disaster to just one more bad memory, a few surprising pockets of strength emerged among exchange- traded funds.
Only 139 of the 801 ETFs tracked by TheStreet.com Ratings rose last month. Most of the gainers were fixed-income and "inverse" ETFs, with some gold funds and a few other specialized commodity offerings included.
But among the more conventional ETFs, some Eastern European, Asian and alternative-energy funds ended the month with advances, as can be seen in the accompanying table. Since all remain down 20% to 70% for the year, it remains to be seen whether the November increases were first steps in recoveries or merely dead-cat bounces.
Alternative energy continued to draw investor attention, as the
Elements MLCX Biofuels Total Return
achieved an 11.15% gain, while the
PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio
moved fractionally higher.
PWND, like many alt-energy plays, is globally diversified, with just 12% of its holdings in the U.S. and much of its remaining investments in Spain, Switzerland, Japan, France, Denmark, Germany and China. Its biggest holdings include
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
In Asia, a quartet of China-focused ETFs were joined by a pair of small-cap Japanese funds in bucking the November downtrend.
WisdomTree Japan Small Cap Dividend
leads the funds in the table for the latest three months -- down only 12.62% -- and for the year to date, where it is off by 20.65%.
Despite heavy investments in energy companies, a pair of Eastern European funds achieved double-digit percentage jumps during the month. The
Market Vectors TR Russia ETF
, spurted 16.19%, while the
SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF
vaulted 25.44%. Both include energy giants Gazprom and Lukoil among their biggest portfolio holdings. FUR is 60% invested in Russian securities, with other positions in Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.