Consider Investing in the Great White NorthPublished 2/25/2011 11:50 a.m. EST Many international ETFs have taken a hit this year, particularly "BRIC" (Brazil, Russia, India and China) themed ETFs that track popular emerging markets. Investors looking to diversify beyond U.S. markets, however, need to look no further than our neighbor to the North and the iShares MSCI Canada ( EWC). EWC has advanced more than 11% in the last three months, and a raft of earnings next week could help lift the fund even higher. Three leading Canadian banks -- which are each included in EWC's underlying portfolio -- are slated to release their quarterly earnings numbers next week. Together, Royal Bank of Canada ( RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD) and the Bank of Montreal ( BMO) account for close to 15% of the fund's total portfolio. Fellow top holding Canadian Natural Resources ( CNQ) is listed on this week's earnings calendar as well. CNQ represents makes up 3.7% of the fund's total index. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll Canada's big financial firms have held up well in 2011, and the country's abundant natural resources continue to be attractive to outside investors. Energy companies are strongly represented in the EWC portfolio, and rising commodity prices should also help to push the fund higher. EWC is a large, liquid ETF with an average daily trading volume of more than 2.5 million shares. In addition to RBC, TD, BMO, and CNQ, other top EWC components include Suncor Energy ( SU), Potash ( POT), Barrick Gold ( ABX) and Goldcorp ( G).
Energy Alternatives in the ETF SpacePublished 2/23/2011 12:48 p.m. EST While investors and commentators alike will likely stay focused on oil for the next few sessions, the issues of alternatives will eventually arise. A run-up in oil prices often brings renewed interest in green-energy and alternative-energy ETFs. Before the serious alternative-energy talk even gets started, though, investors should familiarize themselves with options in the ETF marketplace. President Obama has been pushing for increased alternative energy funding, and the current unrest in the Middle East is just one more reason why "energy independence" will be pushed to the front of the agenda. If serious, long-term concerns about the global oil supply continue to take root, investors and politicians might both be quicker to jump behind alternatives such as solar, wind and nuclear. Investors looking to target specific slices of the energy sector have plenty of options. The First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF ( FAN) is the most liquid wind ETF, and the Guggenheim Solar ETF ( TAN) is the most liquid solar ETF. The Market Vectors Nuclear ETF ( NLR) is a large, liquid option for exposure to nuclear energy firms across the globe. Longer-term investors looking for a broad ETF that covers a wide range of alternative energy firms should check out the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF ( PBW). While U.S. dependence on oil will certainly not end overnight, conflicts abroad should help to eventually draw attention to energy alternatives. Increased interest in green energy options could help to fuel funds like FAN, TAN, NLR and PBW in the short term. At the time of publication, Dion Money Management had no positions in stocks mentioned.