NEW YORK (
) -- International ETFs dominated the list of winners and losers this week, as major political events unfolded in Thailand, Turkey and Europe. Meanwhile, Japan continued its outperformance in 2010.
Claymore/AlphaShares China Real Estate
The Chinese housing industry was, once again, a source of strength this week, leading TAO to some impressive gains. However, investors shouldn't get too bullish on this fund as fundamental and technical indicators are calling for trouble in the near future.
This week, TAO's 50-day moving average crossed below its 200-day moving average, forming what chartists call the "Death Cross." This negative signal indicates that a bear market could be on the horizon. From a fundamental perspective, industry specialists are becoming more wary of the rising prices. On Feb. 23, the
South China Morning Post
reported that the head of the state-owned conglomerate China Everbright Holdings sees the ballooning home prices in some areas of mainland China as "frightening."
iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund
THD had a strong week as markets in Thailand saw strong buying from foreigners looking to take advantage of the country's low price-to-earnings multiple. However, there is uncertainty as to how markets will react to potential political instability after judges confiscated $1.4 billion from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who still commands a great deal of support within Thailand despite his self-imposed exile abroad.
CurrencyShares Japanese Yen
iShares MSCI Japan
iShares MSCI Japan Small Cap
The yen rallied against the dollar in the past week, and it was enough to lift the Japan ETFs in a week when the Nikkei 225 remained flat.
iShares MSCI Spain
iShares MSCI Italy
An I and the S in "PIIGS" received a respite from a slide earlier in the week after the euro rebounded on Thursday and Friday. Attention remains focused on southern European debt problems, however, and the outlook for the region remains negative. On Friday, Standard & Poor's warned that it may downgrade Spain's credit rating if the economy worsens.
Market Vectors Solar
Claymore/MAC Global Solar
Solar energy ETFs did anything but shine this week. Investors fled these instruments as European governments continued to shift their focus away from subsidies in favor of combating sovereign debt. Adding insult to injury, TAN and KWT were further punished this week when shares of
nosedived after the company forecast narrower margins in its earnings report.
iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index Fund
The Turkish ETF was one of the strongest funds last year as nations developed, emerging and frontier alike powered down the path of recovery. However, now that things have slowed a bit, political and economic weaknesses in the nation are beginning to show, threatening the performance of the fund.
TUR took the podium as the worst-performing ETF this week. Over the course of the past few days, more than 40 officers have been arrested and 20 have been charged for their involvement in an alleged plot aimed at staging a military coup. This political unrest sent investors fleeing.
As the nation's government continues to tackle the attempted military takeover, shares of this fund are expected to remain dangerously volatile.
-- 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.