NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's winners and losers.
SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF ( XME) 14.7% Growth-correlated sectors scored industry-leading gains last week as confidence returned and investors regained an appetite for risk. XME and other materials-focused ETFs such as Market Vectors Coal ETF ( KOL) and the Market Vectors Steel ETF ( SLX) were among the biggest movers. Energy proved popular as well. The SPDR Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF ( XOP), iShares Dow Jones Oil Equipment & Services Index Fund ( IEZ) and First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Index Fund ( FCG) were all found heading higher. The past week's strength is encouraging. However, investors should avoid becoming complacent. As we have seen in recent months, investor sentiment can shift quickly. Those without a proper line of defense can be left vulnerable to losses. iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund ( EWY) 12.3% As investors piled back into risk, emerging markets such as South Korea and South Africa proved to be popular destinations. Both EWY and the iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund ( EZA) managed to recover all of the losses suffered during the late-November sell off. In the event that market strength persists as we head into the final month of the year, funds like EWY and EZA could continue higher. iShares MSCI France Index Fund ( EWQ) 12.4% European debt woes were cast to the sidelines this week, leaving room for funds like EWQ, the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund ( EWG) and iShares MSCI EMU Index Fund ( EZU) with some room to power higher. Despite these gains, I encourage investors to steer clear of Europe. The coming week could be a dicey one for these funds. On Friday, EU leaders are slated to convene in Brussels for a summit. How this meeting pans out will likely play a major role in determining the near-term action of these nations' markets. ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL) 13.6% Palladium was a standout performer within the precious metals industry this week as reinvigorated investors sought out market-correlated assets. Aside from investor risk appetite, a strong auto sales report helped to further stoke PALL higher. The strong market action boded well for gold miner ETFs. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX) rose more than 5% while the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF ( GDXJ) enjoyed approximately 10% gains.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX) -17.2% Following a rough couple of weeks which included the worst Thanksgiving week since the 1930s, investors kicked off the final month of 2011 on a strong note.