iShares MSCI Sweden Index
iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund
iShares MSCI Austria Investable Market
iShares MSCI France Index
iShares MSCI Belgium Investable Market
The ETFs following the markets of European Union member nations were able to come off of last week's lows to rise to the top of the list of this week's winners. The gains of these nations come as a bit of a surprise after this week's negative unemployment data.
This week, the Eurozone announced that due to the global credit crunch its unemployment rate had hit its ten-year peak of 9.5% in May. Sweden, the top gainer among this group also surprised everyone late this week when it announced it was dropping its rates from 0.50% to 0.25%, the lowest levels since 1907.
As the EU attempts to find a bottom in the global economic crisis, the funds that follow its members' markets will continue to experience volatility. I have written articles on some of these nations including
PowerShares Dynamic Consumer Staples
PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage
iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods
Consumer goods ETFs surged this week as shining news from giants
helped push the aggregate U.S. market up at the start of the new quarter. Kraft saw the biggest gains in the Dow, rising 5 percent on news that the company will be opening factories in Russia. Yum! Brands' surged when Goldman Sachs raised the company's rating from buy to neutral on hopes that business in China and the U.S. will improve.
Finally, General Mills announced a 94% increase in profits in the fourth quarter. Falling ingredient and packaging prices also helped the company increase its 2010 profit forecasts. All of this good news helped set the consumer goods sector off to a great start for the new quarter.
PowerShares Dynamic Utilities
iShares Dow Jones US Utilities
Utilities saw a boost this week as sector giant
increased its hostile bid for New Jersey-based
to $7.73 billion. Exelon is the top holding for IDU and a top 10 holding for PUI. News of the bid increase helped to push the ETF higher during this week. A recent article I wrote examines this current bid by Exelon and its effect on energy fund,
Market Vectors Nuclear Energy
US Natural Gas
iPath DJ AIG Natural Gas TR Sub-Idx ETN
PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy
Market Vectors Coal ETF
From coal to clean, the energy sector took a beating this past week. The losses were headed by UNG, the natural gas ETF, which continued its fall that started last week. UNG's drawbacks are becoming more apparent as the weeks go on. The natural gas ETN, GAZ, came in second as natural gas futures dropped this week on news that cool weather was on the way. With lower than expected temperatures, the demand for gas used to cool houses dropped.
The drop in renewable energy ETFs is mainly due to the effect of the global crunch. While global investments in renewable energy leapt from their dramatic 44% drops in the first quarter and rose throughout the second, Reuters reports that full-year levels will not recover until 2010 and 2011.
iShares Silver Trust
PowerShares DB Silver
Silver saw losses as the U.S. dollar gained strength this week. Silver traditionally rises on a weaker dollar as investors attempt to hedge against the falling value of the currency. Negative news from abroad helped the greenback but hurt silver investors.
iShares Dow Medical Devices
iShares NASDAQ Biotech
Biotech & Genome
Biotech, a traditionally volatile sector, also saw losses this week. As President Obama continued to push for his healthcare reform, the threat to biotech companies is becoming a little more realistic. Obama feels that the drugs developed by these companies should be subject to generic competition after seven years. This competition would result in huge revenue losses for the companies developing the drugs. According to the companies, these revenues are used to fund research for newer and better drugs for consumers.
While the whole sector hurt this week, some ETFs managed to do better than others. One, IBB managed to pare the losses better than most. IBB is one of the healthier biotech and pharmaceutical funds I featured in my article on the sector found
, a giant in the biotech industry announced this week that it was buying the rights to market Fampridine SR, an experimental MS therapy from Acorda Therapeutics. It will be interesting to see how this decision will affect IBB and other ETFs that have large holdings in the company in the coming weeks.
Don Dion is the 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.
Dion is also president and founder of Dion Money Management, 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.