Winners

ProShares UltraShort Semiconductors ETF (SSG): +15.8%

Because of a floundering semiconductor market, this short leveraged fund grew rapidly over the past five business days. SSG has raked in substantial gains as relevant funds (most notably the SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF ( XSD)) plummet. Over the past week, XSD dropped by 5%, approaching a new low for 2010. Slashed revenue forecasts from top holdings such as NVIDIA ( NVDA) have contributed to this trend since mid- to late-July, and Cisco ( CSCO)-related woes have hurt the tech sector as a whole.

iPath S&P500 VIX short-term Futures (VXX): +11.4%

With markets generally faltering this week, it doesn't come as a surprise that the fear index and the fund that tracks futures contracts based on it have flourished over the past few days. Investor confidence has understandably dipped as European markets and the tech sector both have taken hits. This week alone, the Dow was down just more than 3%, the S&P dropped more than 3.5%, and the Nasdaq fell 5%.

Although the retail sector did turn positive, it is still underperforming market predictions. In short, this week made for generally gloomy market conditions -- the perfect habitat for a thriving fear index.

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iShares Comex Gold (IAU): +0.8%

Gold has been steadily growing over the course of the summer (hitting a relative high in June, briefly depreciating in July, then resuming growth over the past two weeks). In part thanks to the market underperformance, this week has been no exception to the yellow metal's positive trend. Particularly during times of market distress, some investors turn to this precious metal as a financial safe haven.

Losers

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining (XME): -7.4%

Coal accounts for about 25% of XME's index, and it joined XME on the loser list this week. Alcoa ( AA) and Freeport McMoran ( FCX) were also down this week. Although gold prices were higher on the week, concern about economic growth hurt the sector.

XME has been in a holding pattern since May, bouncing between $45 and $53 per share. At nearly $49 at the end of this week, it's right in the middle of this range.

Market Vectors Coal (KOL): -6.7%

Coal mining shares ended up in a similar position as other nongold mining shares. This ETF is also at the midpoint of a range between about $30 and $36 per share. This week, General Electric ( GE) complained about an Obama administration report on clean coal, saying that it didn't offer solutions. GE is investing in clean coal technologies. Expect political posturing to pick up as the election season heats up.

iShares MSCI Sweden Index ETF (EWD): -8.8%

The Swedish ETF was pummeled this week, as several negative conditions combined to pull the fund downward. To begin with, the European market, as a whole, endured a rough few days. The euro has suffered dramatically, as compared with the dollar, depreciating 4% for the week. Meanwhile, the Swedish krona depreciated against the euro, which put the Swedish currency even further in the red for the week vs. the dollar.

On a holding-related level, Ericsson ( ERIC), which accounts for 11.4% of EWD's portfolio, fell a hefty 6.2% over the past week. Analysts primarily attribute ERIC's downward motion to a shrinking mobile telecommunication market; the global mobile network infrastructure market has contracted by 17% relative to the year-ago quarter, and ERIC's share of that market slipped as well.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

-- At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned IAU.

Don Dion is president and founder of Dion Money Management, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.

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