NEW YORK (
) -- An optimistic jobless claims report helped cap off a positive, albeit holiday-shortened, week of trading. At the closing bell all three of the major indices were in the green.
Though the holidays were on the minds of many, in Washington it was all about health care reform. Before this week, it appeared as though the issue had lost steam and that legislation wouldn't be approved before the holiday recess. However, on Monday, debate on the topic was completed, leading the way to a 60-39 vote in the Senate on Christmas Eve. The legislation must now be reconciled with that approved by the House of Representatives in November. If the final bill is approved by both houses of Congress, it will mark the broadest changes to the U.S. health care system in decades.
Gold took a beating again this week, dropping to less than $1,100 per ounce for a short time as the dollar gained strength. However, this trend was reversed on Friday when the greenback faltered, helping gold recover some of its losses.
With that in mind, here are the winners and losers for this week.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Fund
SPDR S&P 500 Homebuilders ETF
On Tuesday, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed that, for the third consecutive month, conditions in the housing market improved. Riding this news, homebuilders headed higher, failing to show weakness despite a less-than-positive new-home sales report.
PowerShares Dynamic Semiconductors Portfolio
S&P North American Technology-Semiconductors Index Fund
The semiconductor ETFs saw a nice jump this week when top holding
released better-than-expected earnings. As I predicted in my
blog, PSI proved to be the best performer as the semiconductor industry as a whole moved higher. IGW, however, remains a more stable play on the industry for longer-term investors.
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Claymore/Robb Report Global Luxury Index ETF
As consumers headed to stores and online to prepare for last-minute holiday shopping, the biggest gains could be seen in the global luxury market. The ROB is currently the only ETF available that provides investors with pure-play exposure to this industry.
iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund
Strong performance across the broad market throughout most of this week caused investors to scramble from long-term Treasuries.
iShares COMEX Gold Trust
A strengthening dollar continued to punish physical gold ETFs throughout most of the week. At one point, the yellow metal dipped below $1,100 per ounce. By the end of the week, however, the fund nearly broke into positive territory when the dollar's rally hit a roadblock.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion owned IAU and TLT.
Don Dion is president and founder of
, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.
Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.