NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's ETF winners and losers.
iPath Dow Jones UBS Cotton Total Return Subindex ETN (BAL) 15.2%
In the second half of February, cotton prices took a sharp shot across the bow. This decline, however, did not last long. Throughout the past week, the commodity has staged an impressive comeback. By the close of the week, the fund was once again testing previous all-time highs.
The small-cap China ETF suffered through the opening months of 2011 as fears of inflation and political turmoil weighed on general investor interest in emerging markets. The fund appears to have found some footing over the past week as lawmakers meet in Beijing to discuss the nation's five-year plan. China's domestic consumer class has become a major focus of these discussions. In an attempt to pare back the country's dependence on exports, the nation's government is mulling ways to spur domestic spending. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll
iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund (ECH) 4.7%
ECH witnessed notable gains this week halting the decent that has endured throughout the opening months of the new year. Caution is still warranted here, however, as economic storms raging abroad continue to weigh on emerging markets. Brazil's markets will be closed at the start of next week for Carnival. During these days the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund ( EWZ) could prove to be a volatile ETF option.
The world spent the week focused on the oil's ascension. Meanwhile, natural gas prices continued to tread lower. Not even a positive storage report from the Energy Information Administration was enough to stem losses for futures-based funds such as UNG and the iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Total Return Subindex ETN ( GAZ). Both funds ended the week carving brand new all-time lows.
Although the solar energy ETF managed to score some gains in the latter half of the week, it was not enough to offset the fund's early losses. TAN has yo-yoed throughout the opening months of 2011, highlighting the volatile nature of the industry. This behavior is likely to continue as global economic and political headwinds weigh heavily on confidence. Rising oil prices may thrust solar and other aspects of the alternative energy industry into a positive light. However, only the most risk-tolerant investors should try their luck here.
For the second week in a row the airline ETF could be found listed among the industry's biggest losers. Oil's ascension over the past week has plagued this naturally volatile corner of the transportation industry as investors weigh the overall impact rising fuel prices will have on companies such as Delta ( DAL), Southwest ( LUV) and UnitedContinental ( UAL). The transportation sector as a whole will likely continue to be a closely watched aspect of the market for investors seeking ways to follow the ongoing economic recovery. Due to its well-diversified index, a fund such as the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund ( IYT) will see less dramatic swings over time.