Finally, General Mills announced a 94% increase in profits in the fourth quarter. Falling ingredient and packaging prices also helped the company increase its 2010 profit forecasts. All of this good news helped set the consumer goods sector off to a great start for the new quarter. PowerShares Dynamic Utilities ( PUI) +4.07% iShares Dow Jones US Utilities ( IDU) +3.39% Utilities saw a boost this week as sector giant Exelon ( EXC) increased its hostile bid for New Jersey-based NRG Energy ( NRG) to $7.73 billion. Exelon is the top holding for IDU and a top 10 holding for PUI. News of the bid increase helped to push the ETF higher during this week. A recent article I wrote examines this current bid by Exelon and its effect on energy fund, Market Vectors Nuclear Energy ( NLR) here.
iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) -2.52% PowerShares DB Silver ( DBS) -2.45% Silver saw losses as the U.S. dollar gained strength this week. Silver traditionally rises on a weaker dollar as investors attempt to hedge against the falling value of the currency. Negative news from abroad helped the greenback but hurt silver investors. SST Biotech ( XBI) -1.71% iShares Dow Medical Devices ( IHI) -1.62% iShares NASDAQ Biotech ( IBB) -.74% Biotech & Genome ( PBE) -.71% Biotech, a traditionally volatile sector, also saw losses this week. As President Obama continued to push for his healthcare reform, the threat to biotech companies is becoming a little more realistic. Obama feels that the drugs developed by these companies should be subject to generic competition after seven years. This competition would result in huge revenue losses for the companies developing the drugs. According to the companies, these revenues are used to fund research for newer and better drugs for consumers. While the whole sector hurt this week, some ETFs managed to do better than others. One, IBB managed to pare the losses better than most. IBB is one of the healthier biotech and pharmaceutical funds I featured in my article on the sector found here. Biogen ( BIIB), a giant in the biotech industry announced this week that it was buying the rights to market Fampridine SR, an experimental MS therapy from Acorda Therapeutics. It will be interesting to see how this decision will affect IBB and other ETFs that have large holdings in the company in the coming weeks.