NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are this week's winners and losers.


SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF

(XME) - Get SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF Report


Growth-correlated sectors scored industry-leading gains last week as confidence returned and investors regained an appetite for risk. XME and other materials-focused ETFs such as

Market Vectors Coal ETF

(KOL) - Get VanEck Vectors Coal ETF Report

and the

Market Vectors Steel ETF

(SLX) - Get VanEck Vectors Steel ETF Report

were among the biggest movers.

Energy proved popular as well. The

SPDR Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF

(XOP) - Get SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF Report


iShares Dow Jones Oil Equipment & Services Index Fund

(IEZ) - Get iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF Report


First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Index Fund

(FCG) - Get First Trust Natural Gas ETF Report

were all found heading higher.

The past week's strength is encouraging. However, investors should avoid becoming complacent. As we have seen in recent months, investor sentiment can shift quickly. Those without a proper line of defense can be left vulnerable to losses.

iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund

(EWY) - Get iShares MSCI South Korea ETF Report


As investors piled back into risk, emerging markets such as South Korea and South Africa proved to be popular destinations. Both EWY and the

iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund

(EZA) - Get iShares MSCI South Africa ETF Report

managed to recover all of the losses suffered during the late-November sell off.

In the event that market strength persists as we head into the final month of the year, funds like EWY and EZA could continue higher.

iShares MSCI France Index Fund

(EWQ) - Get iShares MSCI France ETF Report


European debt woes were cast to the sidelines this week, leaving room for funds like EWQ, the

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iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund

(EWG) - Get iShares MSCI Germany ETF Report


iShares MSCI EMU Index Fund

(EZU) - Get iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF Report

with some room to power higher.

Despite these gains, I encourage investors to steer clear of Europe. The coming week could be a dicey one for these funds. On Friday, EU leaders are slated to convene in Brussels for a summit. How this meeting pans out will likely play a major role in determining the near-term action of these nations' markets.

ETFS Physical Palladium Shares

(PALL) - Get Aberdeen Standard Physical Palladium Shares ETF Report


Palladium was a standout performer within the precious metals industry this week as reinvigorated investors sought out market-correlated assets. Aside from investor risk appetite, a strong auto sales report helped to further stoke PALL higher.

The strong market action boded well for gold miner ETFs. The

Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF

(GDX) - Get VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF Report

rose more than 5% while the

Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF

(GDXJ) - Get VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF Report

enjoyed approximately 10% gains.


iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN

(VXX) - Get iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Report


Following a rough couple of weeks which included the worst Thanksgiving week since the 1930s, investors kicked off the final month of 2011 on a strong note.

As investors regained confidence and ventured back into the global marketplace the fear index took a heavy shot across the bow, ultimately ending the week at November lows.

VXX's 50-day moving average provided little in the way of support as the fund suffered five consecutive days of declines.

iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund

(TLT) - Get iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF Report


After a five-day slide, long-term U.S. treasuries managed to regain some traction, closing out the week with solid gains. This upward action was not enough to keep TLT off of this week's losers list, however.

Defensive assets have fallen out of favor over the past week. However, investors should not avoid writing them off entirely. Funds like TLT can help mitigate losses in the event that fear makes a comeback.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.


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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management did not own any of the equities mentioned.