NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Welcome to Don Dion's "ETF Winners and Losers." Be sure to stop by throughout the week to find out which ETFs are gaining or losing.


iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX) 2.8%

Although a relatively strong employment report helped to start the day off on an optimistic note, any gains were wiped out by mid-day following news that Fitch had downgraded Italy and Spain.

The past few days of strength have been promising. However, today's news is a reminder that we still face steep macroeconomic hurdles. Investors looking to navigate these tricky markets should continue to stick to defensive assets.

iPath Dow Jones UBS Sugar Subindex Total Return ETN ( SGG) 2.2%

The agriculture sector is witnessing mixed action as we approach the market close. While the sugar-tracking SGG is scoring gains, the iPath Dow Jones UBS Coffee Subindex Total Return ETN ( JO) is sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum, dropping over 4%.

This type of bipolar performance is not unusual within in the realm of single commodity futures ETNs. Investors looking to target this market while avoiding excessive risk should look to a diversified fund like the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund ( DBA).


SPDR KBW Regional Banking ETF ( KRE) -4.1%

Renewed concerns about the macroeconomic issues facing Europe have put a damper on the market's multi-day rally. Leading the decline into the weekend is the financial sector.

Looking to next week, banking instructions will be in focus as industry leader JPMorgan ( JPM) reports its earnings. While it will be interesting to see how the company fared over the past three months, I encourage conservative investors to stick to the sidelines here.

Guggenheim Solar ETF ( TAN) -3.8%

The solar energy ETF is giving back nearly all of Thursday's gains as we approach the weekend.

As I stated yesterday, the solar energy sector is not one for the faint of heart. Funds like TAN and Market Vectors Solar ETF ( KWT) face steep headwinds as concerns about the global growth picture continue to weigh on sentiment.

First Trust NYSE Arca Biotech Index Fund ( FBT) -2.9%

Shares of biotech player Illumina ( ILMN) are tumbling over 30% at the end of the week following reports that the company had slashed its full-year forecasts.

ETFs are strong options investors can turn to in order to tame the volatile biotech industry. While FBT may be taking a notable hit this afternoon, its diversified portfolio has helped to significantly offset Illumina's losses.

iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) -3.0%

Precious metals ETFs are sliding into the close, with physically-backed silver funds like SLV and ETFS Physical Silver Shares ( SIVR) leading the way lower.

Despite being a popular safe haven destination, gold ETFs appear to be struggling to hold up. iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) were in negative territory during early afternoon trading.

All prices as of 2:15 PM EST

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.


At the time of publication, Dion Money Management iShares Gold Trust and PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund.

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