NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are this week's exchange-traded fund winners and losers.
Guggenheim Solar ETF
The rocky market action witnessed this summer has wreaked havoc on the volatile solar energy industry, pushing ETFs like TAN to steep losses.
As I've explained in the past, companies in this sector tend to rely heavily on government subsidies to stay afloat. Therefore, it is not unusual that, as regions like the U.S. and EU work to rein in their debts, these companies have faced heavy pressure.
This week, however, the sun shined on TAN, pushing the fund to industry-leading gains.
Although TAN and other solar energy ETFs could continue to witness strength in the near term, I encourage investors to be cautious here.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund
After last week's steep drop pushed ITB to levels last seen in mid-2009, the residential homebuilders managed to bounce.
This corner of the real estate market continues to be choppy. Investors looking for a safer bet on housing should look to the
iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund
SPDR KBW Bank ETF
The month of August has been a rough one overall for the financial industry as economic turmoil facing the developed world weighed heavily on investor confidence.
Over the past week, however, shares of KBE managed to climb higher, recovering some of their lost ground.
CEO Warren Buffett played a big role in helping this sector higher.
The Nebraska native stole headlines Thursday with his $5 billion investment in troubled
Bank of America
The move is reminiscent of the investments he made in
at the height of the financial crisis.
It will be interesting to see what's in store for the banks in the days ahead as initial reactions to Buffett's move subside.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN
After trudging higher over the course of the month, the fear-tracking VIX ETN, VXX, closed out the last full week of August with notable losses.
Despite the ETN's decline, the fund's gains over the past month are still impressive. VXX has managed to recover all of the losses it suffered in 2011 and is currently sitting above its 200-day moving average for the first time in its trading history.
iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund
Emerging markets continued to struggle this week as jittery investors steered clear of risky corners of the globe. Some of the biggest decliners hailed from Southeast Asia. THD and
iShares MSCI Malaysia Index Fund
both took notable hits.
Given the economic hurdles facing the global markets, I encourage investors to use caution when venturing into volatile regions.
iShares Gold Trust
Physically backed gold ETFs stumbled this week after the yellow metal failed to hold onto brand-new record highs.
Although IAU found itself high on the losers list, this week marked a landmark event for the closely watched
SPDR Gold Shares
. For a short period early in the week this wildly popular fund managed to surpass the
SPDR S&P 500 ETF
to take the crown as the largest exchange-traded fund.
GLD has since fallen back into the second place spot. However, looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether it will once again contend for the throne.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion owned shares of EWM, ICF, IAU, THD.