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


iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund

(THD) - Get iShares MSCI Thailand ETF Report


The Thailand ETF surged higher this week, prolonging an impressive rally that has lasted throughout the summer season. This nation's strength can be attributed to easing tensions between its government and protesters.

Strength from other Southeast Asian nations also helped provide THD with fuel to power higher. Malaysia's market was another big winner within this region after news that the nation saw impressive second-quarter economic growth. As a result,

iShares MSCI Malaysia Index Fund

(EWM) - Get iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF Report

placed among this week's top winners as well.

Latin America was another strong region this week, as

Market Vectors Brazil Small Cap ETF

(BRF) - Get VanEck Brazil Small-Cap ETF Report


iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund

(ECH) - Get iShares MSCI Chile ETF Report

saw gains.

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Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF

(MOO) - Get VanEck Agribusiness ETF Report


This past week investors were treated to news regarding M&A activity from across a number of industries. The deal which has gained the most press, however, has come from the materials sector, where BHP is setting its sights on

Potash of Saskatchewan


. So far, MOO investors have benefited as POT has resisted bids offered by the mining giant, explaining that they undervalue the company.

Strong earnings from


(DE) - Get Deere & Company Report

also aided in MOO's ascension this week.

Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF

(GDX) - Get VanEck Gold Miners ETF Report


Gold fell into favor in a big way this week as investors sought shelter from a slew of poor economic data. As a result of the yellow metal's rise, gold miners benefited well, driving GDX and

Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF

(GDXJ) - Get VanEck Junior Gold Miners ETF Report


Long- term treasuries were another source of strength this week

as iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund

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

jumped higher. On the other side of the coin, the

ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF

(TBT) - Get PowerShares UltraShort Lehman 20+ Year Treasury ProShares Report

sank, carving out some of the heaviest losses of all ETFs.


United States Natural Gas Fund

(UNG) - Get United States Natural Gas Fund Report


Given UNG's dismal August performance, its decline over the past week hardly comes as a surprise. Although gaining in mid-June and again toward the end of July, the fund's trajectory has overwhelmingly been downward. This has been largely thanks to suffering natural gas prices.

As indicated by its past, UNG remains a dangerously tricky fund to tame. Rather than testing your luck, investors optimistic about the prospects of natural gas should instead check out ETFs designed to track the companies responsible for producing, transporting and storing the fuel.


First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index ETF

(FCG) - Get First Trust Natural Gas ETF Report

and the

JPMorgan Alerian MLP Index ETN

(AMJ) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. FR SP ETN REDEEM 24/05/2024 USD 19.03661 Report

are two funds I have typically relied on for playing natural gas.

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN

(VXX) - Get Barclays Bank PLC ZC SP ETN REDEEM 23/01/2048 USD 27.193879 - Ser A ShortTerm Futu Report


While Thursday's bout of economic turmoil provided this VIX-based ETF with a nice rally, it was not enough to make up for the heavy losses the fund incurred heading into the start of the week.

Since topping out at the start of the summer, this fund has fallen steadily, revisiting levels last seen at the start of its May rally. While uncertainty is abundant in today's market, I would advise against using VXX to play it.

Rather, a more reliable way to weather today's market conditions is to combine defensive plays like

iShares COMEX Gold Trust

(IAU) - Get iShares Gold Trust Report

with strong, stable, dividend-paying equities like those found in

iShares Dow Jones Dividend Select Index Fund




(KBE) - Get SPDR S&P Bank ETF Report


KBE started off the week on a moderate note, scoring gains early on. The action, however, quickly turned negative on Thursday when poor economic data soured investors on the markets, causing the fund to take a heavy loss. The pain continued into the end of week, pushing KBE to test 2010 lows.

Banking will likely remain a risky area looking into the near future as companies begin to realize the effects of the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Use caution when treading through this industry.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion Money Management was long iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF.

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.