iPath Dow Jones-UBS Sugar Total Return Subindex ETN (SGG) +7.2%
After tumbling hard through the first half of 2010, sugar prices have dramatically reversed their trajectory, pushing SGG to levels last seen in March. Although its ascension has been dramatic, the longer term outlook for sugar is far from sweet. This week, Brazil's Agriculture Ministry announced that they expect the price of the crop to fall over the next two years. Investors looking for a more reliable way to play agriculture futures contracts should look to PowerShares DB Agriculture ( DBA). This fund tracks a diverse basket of contracts which include wheat, corn, sugar and livestock. This week, DBA gained 3.3%.
Natural gas prices witnessed a nice jump this week as well thanks to an optimistic storage report from the Energy Information Administration. The best way for investors to play the natural gas industry is to skip UNG and opt for the equity backed First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index ETF ( FCG). > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll The fund has recently gone through an interesting transformation which has left it heavily exposed to a number of integrated oil majors such as Exxon Mobil ( XOM), Total ( TOT) and Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A). This week, a number of these firms reported stellar earnings. FCG fell 1.5% this week.
iShares MSCI Austria Investable Market Index Fund (EWO) +4.1%
A number of European Union-focused ETFs were leaders among this week's list of winners as fears regarding the region's debt issues were abated. Topping the list was EWO, which is designed to track the Austrian market. In the midst of the debt crisis, Austria was singled out as being particularly vulnerable to tension due to its heavy exposure to Eastern European debt.
The industry linked platinum group of metals scored strong gains this week, led by palladium. The strength, however, did not extend to all members of the precious metals industry. Gold prices tumbled as investors shied away from protection in favor of more risky assets. In response, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX) suffered one of the sharpest drops of all ETFs this week.
Tech was a big laggard this week with semiconductors feeling the brunt of the pain. Late in the week, tech took a big hit when outlooks were downgraded for both Nvidia ( NVDA) and Symantec ( SYMC). Despite this week's hiccup, I still believe that technology will be a strong region of the market to pay attention to going into the second half of 2010.
The market is still trying to come to terms with the fact that government-sponsored first-time homebuyer incentive program is no longer available to provide support to the real estate industry. Investors looking to try their luck with XHB should remain prudent. The economic storms are still raging and real estate will remain a tricky sector to navigate. At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned GDX.