This week, basic materials ETFs climbed on news that Chinese regulators were mulling the possibility of paring back aggressive efforts to rein in the nation's overheating housing market. SLX, Market Vectors Coal ETF ( KOL), SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF ( XME) and iPath Copper Total Return Subindex ETN ( JJC) were among the biggest gainers this week.
The Brazil ETF and a collection of other Latin America-focused ETFs such as iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index Fund ( ILF) and iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund ( ECH) earned top spots this week. On Thursday, many Latin American nations received a boost after the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean announced expected growth in the region is 5% this year. Brazil is forecast to lead this upward trend, at 7.6% growth. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil Equipment & Services Index Fund (IEZ) +7.6%
Strong earnings and the threat of tropical storm Bonnie helped lift crude prices this week, providing IEZ with an opportunity to head higher. This week, IEZ's top two holdings, Schlumberger ( SLB) and Halliburton ( HAL) released their quarterly earnings reports. Halliburton managed to surpass analyst expectations while SLB's numbers were in line with what analysts had been expecting.
Claymore/AlphaShares China Small Cap Index ETF (HAO) +7.1%
The Chinese markets at last found some strength this week after reports that regulators were planning to scale back policies aimed at cooling the nation's economy. Smaller Chinese companies saw some of the largest gains, leading HAO to outperform large-cap China ETFs such as iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund ( FXI).
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX) -13.9%
On Wednesday, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke offered concern testimony to Congress that sent markets reeling. However, this drop was short-lived as investors staged an equally impressive comeback the following day. Despite these wild swings, the volatility index-tracking ETN failed to capitalize, finishing the week with heavy losses.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare Providers Index Fund (IHF) -2.9%
Most facets of the U.S. markets benefited this week as company after company reported strong quarterly earnings. Health care providers, however, struggled during this period, and ended the week on a low note. Three top 10 holdings dragged on the fund: Medco Health Solutions ( MHS), Express Scripts ( ESRX) and Quest Diagnostics ( DGS). Each of these firms dipped around 10% for the week.
Agriculture was another decliner this week. DBA's index of futures tumbled thanks to weakness from both cocoa and coffee. Together these two commodities account for 22% of the fund's total portfolio. But on the other side of the coin, sugar, which makes up 12% of the portfolio, rallied this week, earning iPath Dow Jones-UBS Sugar Total Return Subindex ETN ( SGG) some of the strongest returns of all exchange-traded products.