The PowerShares Lux Nanotech ( PXN) exchange-traded fund was one of the best performers of Tuesday's session, thanks to a surge in shares of Altair Nanotech ( ALTI).

Before the session began, Altair held a successful demonstration of its all-electric vehicle in Norway. Shares surged 43% on the news, and the ETF jumped 41 cents, or 2.3%, to $18.23.

Bundled securities tracking gold and silver futures were also among the winners. After starting the day lower, gold prices were up $4.50 to $739.70 an ounce and silver rallied 29 cents to $13.59 an ounce.

The iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) was higher by $1.70, or 1.3%, to $133.58. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX) ETF was up 69 cents, or 1.6%, to $45.31. The SDPR S&P Metals & Mining ( XME) rose $1.46, or 2.3%, to $65.56. The PowerShares DB Silver ( DBS) was gaining 35 cents, or 1.3%, to $26.40.

Oil-related ETFs also gained ground, as crude oil jumped above the $80 level again. Recently, the November crude contract was up $1.84 to $80.86 a barrel.

The Ultra Oil & Gas ProShares ( DIG) added $3.24, or 3%, to $112.93. The iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Index ( OIL) was up $1.08, or 2.4%, to $45.84. The United States Oil ( USO) ETF was gaining $1.11, or 1.8%, to $61.87.

On the other hand, ETFs tracking the chip sector were under pressure. Among individual names, KLA-Tencor ( KLAC), Applied Materials ( AMAT), Xilinx ( XLNX) and Linear Technology ( LLTC) all were sliding.

The SPDR S&P Semiconductor ( XSD) was down $1, or 1.8%, to $54.43. The Ultra Semiconductor ProShares ( USD) was off $1.99, or 2.2%, to $87.40. The PowerShares Dynamic Semiconductors ( PSI) shed 24 cents, or 1.3%, to $18.75.

Telecom and wireless ETFs were also losing ground after Sprint Nextel ( S) said late Monday that CEO Gary Forsee will step down immediately. Shares of Sprint were losing 2.5% to $18.03.

The Broadband HOLDRs ( BDH) slipped 7 cents, or 0.4%, to $16.01. The Wireless HOLDRs ( WMH) was down 43 cents, or 0.6%, to $77.17.

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