Dion's Weekly ETF Winners and Losers

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

Winners

United States Natural Gas Fund ( UNG) 4.1%

UNG managed to break the string of losses it suffered last week, leading it to score some of the ETF industry's strongest gains. The premium-laden iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN ( GAZ) locked in gains as well. As of April 14, GAZ's premium stood at nearly 20%.

Thursday was a strong day for these futures-based funds after the Energy Information Administration released its weekly storage report. According to the report, the stockpiles of the fuel grew less than analysts had been expecting.

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iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) 5.0%

Silver prices continued along their dramatic upward trajectory last week. This industry-linked metal has proven popular as a way to track the ongoing economic recovery and protect against turmoil and inflation.

SLV will continue to benefit as the price of this shiny metal remains in vogue. However, investors looking for equity access to the rise may want to check out the Global X Silver Miners ETF ( SIL).

iShares MSCI Japan Small Cap Index Fund ( SCJ) 2.9%

Japan remains a dangerously volatile region of the globe as the nation takes steps to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Over the past week, however, investors appeared to show confidence in the recovery effort, and funds aimed at tracking the nation's markets powered higher.

SCJ, which is designed to track the smallest publicly traded Japanese companies, saw some of the strongest action as it powered back above its 200-day moving average. This is the second time this level has been breached since the disaster. It will be interesting to see whether the fund can hold on these gains in the next few sessions.

Losers

iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Subindex Total Return ETN ( SGG) -7.5%

Despite its dramatic run-up during the latter half of 2010, the sugar ETN has struggled in 2011. April has been particularly painful for SGG as the fund has declined nearly every day over the past two weeks. These losses have pushed the fund below its 200-day moving average for the first time since last September.

Although it has been steep and gut-wrenching, it is not unusual for these single-crop ETNs to behave in a volatile manner. Conservative investors looking for agriculture exposure should turn to the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund ( DBA) or the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF ( MOO).

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index Fund ( IEO) -4.2%

After starting the week on a sour note, the equity-based IEO struggled to regain footing. Despite its persistent climb higher, oil prices could prove choppy in the near future. Analysts are beginning to speculate whether the current price levels will weigh on demand.

Market Vectors Russia ETF ( RSX) -4.6%

Due to its heavy exposure to oil and gas goliaths including Gazprom and Lukoil, the Russia ETF has traditionally been influenced by the performance of the global energy markets. Therefore, it is not surprising that RSX faced pressure over the past week.

This week the ETF industry welcomed the launch of a new product aimed at tracking the Russian marketplace. Following the success of RSX, Van Eck unveiled the Market Vectors Russia Small Cap ETF ( RSXJ), which is designed to track the smallest publicly traded Russian companies. Although, like RSX, RSXJ boasts notable exposure to the energy industry, the largest chunks of the fund's portfolio are dedicated to the utilities and materials industries.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund.

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