NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's winners and losers.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX) 6.4% Although it started off the week on a sour note, the volatility-tracking VXX managed to eventually find footing and gain ground as global macroeconomic concerns weighed on investor confidence. By the week's end, the fund had reached new 2011 highs. VXX and the VIX will likely continue to be interesting to watch in the days ahead. Investors looking for ways to protect themselves from these market swings should continue to turn to safe haven asset classes. iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund ( EWI) 5.3% The ongoing economic crisis plaguing the EU continues to command daily headlines. However over the past few days, ETFs designed to track the nations comprising the region saw some welcomed relief. Thanks to strength seen during the first half of the week, funds including EWI and iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund ( EWP) closed out the final days of September with some of the ETF industry's biggest gains. Despite the past week's action, I continue to urge conservative investors to steer clear of this corner of the globe. Clouds remain gathered over the EU and in the days ahead it will likely be difficult to tell where funds like EWI and EWP will head next. iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Subindex Total Return ETN ( SGG) 4.3% SGG gave back some of its gains at the end of the week. The losses, however, were not enough to keep the futures-tracking ETN off the winners list. The agriculture sector will be in focus next week when seed giant, Monsanto ( MON) reports earnings. Investors looking to target MON and other firms in this industry should turn to the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF ( MOO), whose top holdings include MOO, Potash of Saskatchewan ( POT) and Deere ( DE).
Market Vectors Solar ETF ( KWT) -11.1% Clouds of economic uncertainty gathered over the solar energy sector, leading both KWT and Guggenheim Solar ETF ( TAN) to heavy losses. These two funds have fallen sharply and steadily during the second half of 2011. While it will be interesting to see if either can find footing in the weeks ahead, I would encourage investors to watch them from the sidelines. The alternative energy sector as a whole will continue to behave in a volatile manner as developed nations seek out ways to reign in debt.