NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was a volatile week that saw hopes for a great jobs number on Friday, but instead those hopes were dashed by a number that showed little job growth outside of census hiring. On top of that miss, a mix of bad news from Europe caused the euro to sell off and contributed to a big down day on Friday.
United States Natural Gas
One of the few ETF winners last week that wasn't an inverse fund was UNG. Natural gas has been marching to the beat of a different drummer for more than a year, and for almost all of that period, that meant lower prices. Now, after oil tumbled in May and stocks are in the midst of a selloff, natural gas is conspicuous in its rise.
Due to losses from contango, UNG is in worse shape than natural gas itself, which presents a much more bullish picture. For that reason, even if natural gas rises, it makes sense for investors to avoid UNG and the
iPath DJ-UBS Natural Gas ETN
that has the same problem.
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First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas
is a better choice, though it will move with the broader stock market.
JP Morgan Alerian MLP Index
is a more conservative play that will have limited upside, but AMJ outperformed in the past year because its high yield made it attractive in a low-interest rate environment. Plus, it has more exposure to transportation and storage of natural gas. Firms in this area of the business can do well with low prices if it means increased demand.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN
This fund made all of its gains for the week on Friday during the stock market selloff. While VXX often jumps on days when the market falls, the fund is still below its May high, even though the
index closed below its May low. The reason is that the VIX index, which is sometimes called the fear index, measures expectations. The index is based on options prices, and investors pay more for options if they expect there will be a big move in the price of the underlying asset, up or down. Therefore, the VIX will peak with panic, rather than lows in the stock market.
iShares MSCI Thailand
THD outperformed the market on Friday, sliding less than most other markets, and the loss was small enough that the fund held its gains for the week. It came as there was vote of no confidence earlier in the week, which resulted in the prime minister calling for a change to his cabinet. This is all coming in the wake of violent clashes between the military and antigovernment protesters.
With THD, watch how the fund behaves vs. what the headlines say. It has performed well on bad news days, when the casual observer would assume the stock market would be down. If investors have confidence to invest in the face of negative news, it's a positive sign.
iShares MSCI Austria
Romania had a failed bond auction, and Hungary's political leaders said the country could default, claiming that the previous government lied about the true state of the nation's finances. The news also shook Poland, and the Polish currency, the zloty, fell more than 3% on Friday alone.
Among Western European nations, the Austrian banking system has the greatest exposure to Eastern European debt. Back in 2009, investors were watching Austria for signs of banking or sovereign debt problems, but the region held steady as world markets improved. These nations fell off the radar as Greece, Spain and the rest of the PIIGS grabbed attention, but now this problem is back and was responsible for the euro breaking below major long-term support levels.
PowerShares DB Base Metals
Although investors are concerned about a possible slowdown in the Chinese economy, it's the strong dollar and general fear in the markets that have the industrial metals tumbling. All commodities are under pressure, with only a few notable exceptions such as gold and the already pummeled natural gas and sugar. With the broader commodity indices looking bearish, the volatile industrial metals are ripe for a dramatic drop during a global selloff, and DBB has lost 20% since April 30.
iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction
Homebuilders have enjoyed a nice run in 2010 and have outperformed the S&P 500 index by about 8% following Friday's loss. Housing data were good this week, but there was some concern about a drop in mortgage applications that could translate into lower sales by late summer, if the trend continues. It didn't help that some of the bad news on Friday was jobs-related.
At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned THD.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
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.