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) -- Natural gas prices rebounded this week, climbing 30% after hitting a seven-year low a week earlier. Exchange traded funds that invest in the commodity also rallied.

The two best-performing funds this week through Thursday, the

iPath Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Total Return Subindex ETN

(GAZ) - Get Report

and the

United States Natural Gas Fund

(UNG) - Get Report

, catapulted 25% and 24%, respectively.

There's a killing to be made in natural gas over the next year, but it will be risky. Natural gas futures for January 2010 delivery and later are selling for $5.35 per million British thermal units, double Thursday's spot price of $2.68.

Bullish investors are betting an economic recovery plus continued dollar weakness will make commodities like natural gas a good hedge against inflation.

Qatar is boosting production of liquefied natural gas by 7.8 million tons to 54 million tons a year, with plans to expand to 77 million tons annually by 2011. With storage facilities in U.S. and U.K. filled to capacity, the increase could cause a glut that wouldn't bode well for a sustained rally.

Two ETFs that target solar stocks also shined this week: the

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy Index ETF

(TAN) - Get Report

, which rose 17%; and the

Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF


, up 15%.

Shares of

First Solar

(FSLR) - Get Report

, the Claymore fund's largest holding, jumped 17% after the company detailed its plan to build a 2-gigawatt solar farm in Inner Mongolia for the Chinese government. The company won't be alone there.

Canadian Solar

(CSIQ) - Get Report

, whose shares rose 19%, produces 500 megawatts of power in the region, which is part of China's northern border. Local rival

Solarfun Power Holdings


, which advanced 23%, also plans to generate 600 megawatts from two power projects.

Other strong performers include

Solaria Energia y Medio Ambiente


, up 30%;

SMA Solar Technology

, up 23%; and

Energy Conversion Devices


, up 19% on

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

takeover rumors.

Inverse funds that bet against energy were the worst performers this week. The

Direxion Daily Energy Bear 3X Shares

(ERY) - Get Report

, plummeted 17% with triple negative leverage, while the

Rydex Inverse 2X S&P Select Sector Energy ETF


lost 13% with double leverage.

Crude oil prices haven't crossed $74 since June, despite forecasts of higher demand from the International Energy Agency. Oil prices have been stepping higher each week, putting more pressure on the resistance level. If prices top $75, inverse funds might not fare well.

For more information, check out an

explanation of our ratings


-- Reported by Kevin Baker in Jupiter, Fla.


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Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.