NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are this week's winners and losers.
iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Total Return Subindex ETN
A weakened dollar and supply issues in India caused sugar to power higher this week, lifting the futures-based SGG along for the ride. Although it managed to score some of the strongest gains in the ETF industry, SGG is still struggling to regain the atmospheric levels at the start of the month.
While SGG's recent performance has been exciting to watch, I would not advise long-term investors to try their luck with this fund. It is not uncommon that a single commodity product such as this will swing wildly from day to day.
Investors wary of this type of volatility would be better off using a broader fund such as
PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund
to get their sugar fix.
The fund tracks the performance of a number of agricultural products and sets aside 12.5% of its portfolio to the sweetener.
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iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Total Return Subindex ETN
Natural gas prices powered higher this week, helping futures-based products such as GAZ and
United States Natural Gas Fund
score strong gains. Once again, the heavy premium underlying GAZ was an influence, leading the iPath product to outperform UNG.
Heavy demand for natural gas exposure has caused the GAZ to diverge from its underlying assets, amounting to a current premium of 11%.
Although it has come down from its 26% high, I would still advise investors to avoid playing with this product. When this premium is eventually wiped out, the fund will fall back in line with its underlying assets. This will result in rocky performance.
A stronger, more reliable play on the natural gas industry is the
First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Fund
, which tracks companies heavily involved in the production of the fuel.
SPDR S&P Retail ETF
Investors looking for a chance to bank on Black Friday crowds piled into the retail-focused XRT this week. Looking ahead, this fund and other consumer-focused products should continue to perform well as shoppers scour shopping malls and online retailers in search of holiday gift ideas.
While funds such as XRT will be in the spotlight during the holiday season, investors may want to consider adding this and other consumer focused funds to their radar as possible long-term plays on the ongoing resurgence of the consumer.
iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund
The shortened week of trading was not light on news. Europe was thrown into the spotlight as Ireland became the second member of the European Union to seek aid from the EU and International Monetary Fund. While pressure resulting from debt-crisis fears weighed heavily on a wide number of Euro-focused products, the Spain ETF was among the hardest hit.
Looking ahead, investors should continue use extreme caution when attempting to find investing opportunities in Europe. The best way for risk-tolerant investors to play this region of the globe is through funds designed to track the most stable countries.
iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund
Tensions in the two Koreas came to head this week, causing investors to flee EWY. This fund's yo-yoing performance over the past week once again reminds investors of how volatile emerging markets can be. With EWY or any product aimed at tracking developing parts of the globe, investors must maintain a close watch and be prepared for turbulent performance.
iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund
In light of the economic turmoil facing various regions of the globe, high-risk emerging markets took a heavy hit. The South Africa ETF sets aside a large portion of its portfolio for precious and base metal miners. Therefore, this fund performs best in times of market optimism.
Until storms clear over Europe, Asia and other tumultuous parts of the world, EZA will be in for a bumpy ride. Investors should be cautious when investing in this fund.
--Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.