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iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX) 3.6%

Although the U.S. markets are seeing gains, the global economic trials continue to weigh on investor confidence. The fear-tracking VXX and iPath S&P 500 VIX Mid Term Futures ETN ( VXZ) are in positive territory. Thursday's gains have pushed VXX above its 50-day moving average for the first time since late March.

Market Vectors Vietnam ETF ( VNM) 2.2%

Although it has staged an impressive comeback in recent weeks following its dramatic mid-March downturn, VNM continues to be noticeably volatile. Frontier markets like Vietnam must be approached with caution as we work our way through the current rough patch.

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund ( ITB) 1.5%

Homebuilders are witnessing some strength following a positive round of housing-related data points. Despite this action, I urge long-term investors to search elsewhere for real-estate exposure. Although they are lagging ITB today, the iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund ( ICF) and the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index Fund ( IYR) will likely behave in a more stable manner over time.


iPath Dow Jones UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return ETN ( BAL) -4.0%

The futures-tracking cotton ETN is leading the market lower. Thursday's losses mark the fund's fifth consecutive day of declines. This descent has pushed BAL below its 200-day moving average. The last time the fund traded below this level was mid-July 2010.

United States Natural Gas Fund ( UNG) -3.5%

Interestingly, although the weekly storage report from the Energy Information Administration noted that stockpiles increased by less than expected, it is doing little to boost natural gas prices. Both UNG and the iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN are in negative territory.

The equity-tracking First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Index Fund ( FCG) is faring better than its futures-backed cousins. The fund was seeing small gains in early afternoon trading.

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