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SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT)Retail has been an exciting region of the market to watch throughout this most recent holiday season. As we head into the final stretch, malls will likely be packed with shoppers seeking last minute gifts for their loved ones. This week, the anticipation of the holidays will make XRT an interesting fund to watch. However, the fund could also see some earnings-related action as well. Throughout the middle of the week, index constituents including Carmax ( KMX), Finish Line ( FINL) and Walgreens ( WAG) are scheduled to release their most recent quarterly earnings reports.
SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB)There is no shortage of economic data coming through the wires this week as the markets prepare for the Christmas holiday. XHB and other real estate-focused ETFs will be in focus on Tuesday and Wednesday as existing home sales and new home sales data points are released. Real estate remains a tricky region of the market to tame and as I've explained in the past, I see REIT-backed ETFs such as iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund ( ICF) as more promising endeavors than products focused on residential homebuilder. Last week, Sam Zell offered some encouraging words for the REIT and commercial real estate industry. Pointing to the fact that this industry's supply growth has been stagnate recently, he forecast that the value of existing property is set to rise in the near future.
Market Vectors High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (HYD)Municipal bonds have faced hurdles in recent weeks as the sovereign debt issues in Europe remind U.S. investors of the fiscal situations facing the nation on a state-by-state level. The jittery sentiment towards this region of the market has caused funds such as HYD to perform in a rollercoaster-like fashion. As we head into this week, HYD may be exciting to watch. However, given the fund's whipsaw action last week, I wouldn't advise investors to try their luck with this fund. When it comes to fixed income, there are a wide collection of less volatile bets which are more appropriate for a long-term position.
iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Total Return Subindex ETN (SGG)Sugar's dramatic ascension throughout the latter half of 2010 was interrupted in early November when prices took a heavy hit. The downward action was short-lived, however, and after only a few days, prices stabilized and have returned to their upward path.
As we head into this week, SGG appears on its way to revisit pre-breakdown levels. It will be interesting to see if the fund can overtake them and head higher, locking in new all time highs. Conservative investors looking for a safer way to access sugar's rally should turn to the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund ( DBA). DBA sets aside 12% of its portfolio to sugar futures contracts.
Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM)December has been volatile for the Vietnam ETF. The first part of the month was marked by impressive strength. As investors poured into emerging markets, VNM rallied hard, surpassing previous 2010 highs. However, last week, the fund hit a roadblock, pressured by a Moody's downgrade. In response, the fund made a dramatic reversal and tumbled back to levels seen at the end of May. VNM's action over the past few weeks highlights the volatile nature of emerging and frontier markets. Investors should use caution when taking on exposure to these ETFs.
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