Five ETFs to Watch This Week

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are five ETFs to watch this week.

Market Vectors Coal ETF ( KOL)

Mining equipment leader Joy Global ( JOYG) will report earnings on Wednesday and provide investors quarterly performance numbers and outlook for the months ahead. The firm is KOL's largest index component, representing more than 10% of the fund's total assets.

In addition, macroeconomic factors will heavily influence the near-term performance of the coal industry. China, for example, has become a major player to watch. At the end of last week, the nation reported a slowdown in inflation as well as a decline in industrial production growth.

While notable, concerns remain tempered. Many note that China's central bank has a number of tools to spur growth.

iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund ( IYT)

In late October, FedEx ( FDX) noted that Dec. 12 was forecasted to be the company's busiest day. With consumers working diligently to satisfy holiday wish lists, the company predicted that 17 million packages would be handled on Monday.

FedEx is also on the dock to report its quarterly performance numbers on Thursday. In addition to providing insight into the delivery and transportation industries, many consider this report an important barometer for the global economy. Given the choppy past three months, this is a report I encourage investors to keep a close watch on.

IYT lists FedEx as its second largest holding, comprising close to 10% of its overall index.

iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund (EWU)

Late last week, EU leaders convened in Brussels to lay out a plan to resolve the ongoing economic drama unfolding across the region. Although some semblance of a deal was reportedly achieved, the outlook for this corner of the developed world remains cast in uncertainty.

Although it has remained relatively overlooked throughout the saga, the United Kingdom was thrust into the spotlight last Friday. Reportedly, Prime Minister, David Cameron's steadfast opposition to the proposed treaty has prevented the passage of a sweeping EU agreement that would have covered all 27 members of the eurozone.

The U.K., which remains outside of the euro monetary-bloc, has performed relatively well in recent months compared to neighbors such as Germany, France, and Spain. Over the past six months, EWU has dipped less than 10%. The iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund ( EWG), iShares MSCI France Index Fund ( EWQ) and iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund ( EWP), meanwhile, have declined between 20% and 25% over this period.

ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL)

The choppy downward action of the global markets towards the end of last week has done little to stifle the rise in palladium. Throughout the opening half of December, PALL led the pack of physically backed precious metals ETFs, beating out funds such as iShares Gold Trust ( IAU), iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) and ETFS Physical Platinum Shares ( PPLT).

Last week, PALL's fund sponsor ETF Securities came into the spotlight following reports that the company may be putting itself on the selling block. While it will be interesting to see how this story develops, I encouraged investors to refrain from taking brash action here.

iShares PHLX SOX Semiconductor Index Fund ( SOXX)

Texas Instruments ( TXN) and Altera ( ALTR) took hits late last week in response to their decisions to slash their fourth-quarter views. Citing reasons for the cutback, both firms pointed to weak demand.

SOXX is particularly vulnerable to continued weakness from these two players. TI and Altera can both be found among the fund's top 15 holdings, together comprising over 10% of the fund's index.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned iShares Gold Trust.

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