NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The top-performing exchange traded funds in November rode the rally in precious metals, such as gold and platinum, as investors sought to protect themselves from inflation.
The iPath Dow Jones-UBS Platinum Subindex Total Return ETN ( PGM) was the had the biggest return among ETFs last month, rising 26%. Platinum climbed 9.7% in November, its biggest monthly gain since February 2008. The fund has almost doubled in the past year. Jewelry aside, platinum is used in pollution-control devices such as catalytic converters in cars. The return to profitability by Ford ( F) and Toyota ( TM), and the survival of General Motors has helped boost demand for platinum. The iPath Platinum ETN earned our highest "buy"-level rating of A-plus, outperforming all other exchange-traded products measured by our stock-rating model. Platinum ended November at $1,453.75 an ounce. While gold may be hitting record highs, the price of platinum is far from challenging its record of $2,301.50, which was set in March 2008. However, renewed industrial demand suggests that gap might become narrower. The best performing gold ETF in November was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX), up 21%. This fund has 14% of its assets in Barrick Gold ( ABX), 11% in Goldcorp ( GG), 8.8% in Newmont Mining ( NEM) and 5.4% in AngloGold Ashanti ( AU). Other metal and mineral funds also gained as the economy showed signs of improvement. The Market Vectors Steel Index Fund ( SLX), which invests in steel and metal producers, rose 15% last month. The fund benefited from outsized returns of 30% from U.S. Steel ( X), 26% from AK Steel ( AKS) and 26% from Steel Dynamics ( STLD). Coal-fired power plants remain the leading source of electricity in the U.S. The PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio ( PKOL), which bets on coal and energy-related mining stocks, climbed 17% in November. The SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF ( XME) increased 15%, bolstered by the 30% increase in Massey Energy ( MEE).