NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Here are this week's winners and losers.
Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF ( REMX) +12.09% The rare earth metals industry took center stage this week after China announced that it plans to significantly reduce its export quota in the new year. In response, investors piled into companies including Molycorp ( MCP), Rare Elements Resources ( REE) and Australia's Lynas Corp. Together, these three companies make up close to 20% of the fund's total portfolio. Looking to 2011, REMX should be an exciting fund for risk tolerant investors. Rare earth elements are used heavily in the production of handheld gadgets and will therefore become increasingly important as we rely more heavily on smartphones and iPads to work in today's fast paced, interconnected world. iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Total Return Subindex ETN ( GAZ) +6.63% Futures-based natural gas ETFs have struggled throughout 2010, weighed down by factors such as weather and oversupply. GAZ in particular, has struggled with a massive premium throughout much of the latter half of the year. During the final week, however, the fuel got a welcomed lift, aided by colder weather forecasts. This news helped both GAZ and the United States Natural Gas Fund ( UNG). Natural gas will likely be a popular topic in 2011. However, investors should continue to avoid futures-based products. Instead, an equity fund such as the First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Fund ( FCG) should prove to be a more reliable way to track this industry. ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL) +6.34% Palladium prices got a lift this week, closing out a strong year on a positive note. Fund sponsor ETF Securities had great timing with the launch of PALL at the start of 2010. Thanks to improving economic conditions and insatiable investor demand for precious metals, this commodity rallied hard. Looking to next week, palladium and its cousin, platinum should be interesting to watch as auto and truck sales numbers are released. Both metals are used extensively in the production of catalytic converters.
iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Total Return Subindex ETN ( SGG) -5.90% Although it managed to recover some ground at the close of the week, it was not enough to keep the sugar ETN off this week's losers list. Throughout the year, SGG saw staggering seesaw action. The start of the year was marked by a dramatic downturn, leading the fund to carve out new all-time lows. Then, in the second half of 2010, just as dramatically as it fell, the fund staged a comeback, powering past previous all time highs on a near-uninterrupted path.