NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Here are this week's winners and losers.


iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN ( GAZ) 12.7%

Natural gas has become a highly sought after energy source in light of souring sentiment towards the nuclear industry. Investors, looking for direct exposure to this fuel, have poured into futures-based funds such as GAZ and the United States Natural Gas Fund ( UNG).

Both GAZ and UNG managed to march higher this week, with GAZ outpacing UNG by a comfortable margin. The reason: This separation can be traced back to the fund's substantial premium which currently stands at 17%.

In the event that this premium is wiped out in the near future, investors caught holding GAZ will likely face a rocky ride. Those looking for a safer bet on natural gas should turn to the First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Index Fund ( FCG).

iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund ( ECH) 8.6%

Emerging market-related ETFs are struggling this year as political tensions and inflation fears weigh on investor interest in these risky regions. In recent weeks, however, a number of these funds have staged a comeback.

iShares Chile surged last week, breaking above its 50- and 200- day moving averages. Though impressive, ECH still has plenty of distance to cover before it revisits its previous 2011 highs.

Other emerging market funds that saw strength this week included iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund ( EZA) and the Market Vectors Indonesia ETF ( IDX).

Global X Silver Miners ETF ( SIL) 8.5%

Precious metal miner funds enjoyed some solid gains over the past week, leading SIL and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF ( GDXJ) higher.

Gold and silver have become wildly popular among investors seeking protection from the various economic and political headwinds threatening regions of the globe.

SIL will likely be exciting to watch in the near future. The fund is currently on the verge of revisiting previous all time highs.

Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF ( REMX) 6.74%

After tumbling hard in the initial aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the rare earth ETF has staged an impressive comeback, pushing back to pre-crisis levels. The industry and REMX fell into the spotlight late last week after reports that China was planning to raise taxes on rare earths.

While exciting to watch, investors should exercise caution when considering exposure to REMX. It is not uncommon for REMX to see wild day-to-day swings in this volatile industry.


iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX) -14.2%

2011 has started on a shaky note as political and economic tensions have swept through a number of regions of the globe. Interestingly, although these headwinds persist, in recent weeks investors have expressed confidence. As a consequence, the fear-based VIX ETNs have suffered.

VXX's steep fall has caused it to give back nearly all of the gains from the opening weeks of the year. Looking to the next few days, it will be interesting to see if this retreat continues and the ETN returns to previous all time lows.

Market Vectors Egypt ETF ( EGPT) -13.9%

In late January the Egyptian stock market closed in response to widespread political unrest. As a result, EGPT's normal share creation was halted and the ETF essentially became a closed end fund. With no new shares coming to market, EGPT broke away from its underlying index, resulting in the development of a massive premium. This past week the fund's premium was wiped out when the Egyptian stock market reopened and EGPT returned to normal operation. As predicted, the fund's retreat back to its underlying index was a rocky one.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.


At the time of publication, Dion Money Management did not own any of the equities mentioned.

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