NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- ETF Investors will closely monitoring key earnings reports and economic reports this week.

SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) - Get Report

The ETF universe has expanded to include products that track everything from the Indonesian markets to companies responsible for lithium batteries. However, it all began with the SPY.

Since launching in the early 1990's, SPY has blossomed into the largest of all ETFs, with over $70 billion in assets. While other providers have come along with their own products aimed at tracking the S&P 500, none has managed to steal SPY's thunder.

Last week, however, this premier ETF was presented its biggest challenge to date. Vanguard, heralded for its low cost products, launched a suite of funds designed to track variations of the

S&P

Indexes. The flagship product is the

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

(VOO) - Get Report

, which performs the same task as SPY, charging a 0.06% expense ratio vs. SPY's 0.09%

VOO has only had a few days to prove itself so far so looking to this week and the near future it will be interesting to see how this showdown plays out.

SPDR S&P Retail ETF

(XRT) - Get Report

Tuesday is shaping up to be a busy day for the retail industry as consumer electronics retailer

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

and grocery firm

Kroger

(KR) - Get Report

are scheduled to report their quarterly earnings numbers before the market opens. Additionally, the markets will be presented with August retail sales numbers.

I remain confident that retail is an area of the market to keep an eye on. Despite the factors weighing on investor sentiment, as seen by the most recent earnings season, consumers continue to turn to malls and the Internet to get their shopping done.

iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund

(ECH) - Get Report

From an ETF perspective, Latin America has been an intriguing region of the globe to watch in recent months. While ETFs such as

iShares MSCI Mexico Index Fund

(EWW) - Get Report

and

iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund

(EWZ) - Get Report

have struggled to gain ground, the Chile ETF has taken off throughout the summer, surpassing its previous all-time highs.

Chile's chief export is copper, making its markets heavily reliant on the sustainability of the global economic recovery. As we head into this week, Chile bulls will want to keep a close watch on how things shape up on the macro front.

CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust

(FXY) - Get Report

Threats from Japanese government officials have done little to cool the trajectory of the yen as investors continue to turn to the defensive currency for protection against this shaky market.

Interestingly, while the strong yen can be felt across the broad Japanese markets, the

iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund

(EWJ) - Get Report

has held up well, outperforming the Nikkei Index.

This week investors will digest another round of economic data and defensive plays such as FXY,

iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund

(TLT) - Get Report

and

iShares Gold Trust

(IAU) - Get Report

will likely remain attractive.

iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund

(IYT) - Get Report

The transportation industry could be an attractive slice of the market to watch this week. For now, prospects for IYT look strong.

Last week, President Obama laid out his plans for infrastructure which, if approved by Congress, will aid the companies responsible for moving goods and services around the world.

Further, rail bulls received a vote of confidence when executives from

Norfolk Southern

(NSC) - Get Report

, CSX and

Kansas City Southern

(KSC)

offered up their own optimistic views of the industry and the broader economy.

On Thursday, industry bellwether

FedEx

(FDX) - Get Report

is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings. Representing over 10% of IYT's index, this firm's results will heavily influence the fund's direction.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management was long iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund, iShares MSCI Mexico Index Fund and iShares Gold Trust.

Don Dion is 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.

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.