NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's winners and losers.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX) 13.4%
With Washington lawmakers struggling to agree on a debt plan and Europe still embattled against its sovereign crisis, a thick fog of uncertainty was cast over the investing realm over the past week. Such a scenario boded well for volatility-tracking exchange-traded products like VXX. After hitting an all-time low on July 7, the fund has witnessed a multiday string of gains. VXX is currently testing its 50-day moving average for the third time since mid-June. It will be interesting to see whether this level proves once again to be a point of resistance.
Silver prices ascended over the past week as investors seeking shelter from economic storms piled into the protective precious metals. This industrial metal's gains helped SLV power through its 50-day moving average for the first time since the early May selloff. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll It was a big week for gold as well. Investors, hesitant about market-correlated assets, piled into the yellow safe-haven metal and pushed it to brand new record highs. The iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) has been on a tear recently, gaining ground on nearly every trading day over the past two weeks.
iPath Dow Jones UBS Grains Subindex Total Return ETN (JJG) 6.7%
The futures-backed grain ETN has stuck to a steep, nearly uninterrupted upward path since the start of the second half of 2011. These gains have helped the product recover a large chunk of the losses suffered during the fund's late June selloff. The agriculture industry has become a popular, albeit turbulent, region of the marketplace in recent weeks. At the same time that grain prices are heading higher, other crops, such as cotton, are struggling to find footing. Evidence of this commodity's weakness can be seen by looking at the recent performance of iPath Dow Jones UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return ETN ( BAL).
Semiconductors witnessed heavy selling pressure over the past week as jittery investors fled the tech sector. A number of PSI's top holdings, including Texas Instruments ( TXN), Analog Devices ( ADI), and Cymer ( CYMI) struggled to find any strength throughout the week. Looking to Wednesday, semis will likely be in focus as major players, Intel ( INTC) and Qualcomm ( QCOM) step up to the earnings plate. These two companies are among the many tech firms slated to announce their performance numbers next week. Others include Microsoft ( MSFT), Apple ( AAPL), and International Business Machines ( IBM).
The European debt crisis continues to weigh heavily on single-nation ETFs linked to the troubled EU monetary bloc. While iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund ( EWI) scored a spot at the top of last week's losers, this week it was the France-tracking EWQ that took the biggest beating.