Five ETFs to Watch This Week

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

iShares Gold Trust ( IAU)

Although it has traditionally been a darling among defensive-minded investors, the sentiment towards gold appears to have experienced a sweeping about-face. Last week's four-day slide not only sent the price of the yellow metal below the $1600 mark. It also cracked its 200-day moving average for the first time since the start of 2009.

This dramatic tumble has raised alarms across the financial media realm. However, I encourage investors avoid taking any rash actions here. As I've explained on a number of occasions, gold and gold ETFs like IAU should be viewed as long-term core holdings rather than short-term trades. Anemic global economic growth and the Fed's staunch adherence to loose monetary policy are among the factors that still bode well for gold's prospects.

Market Vectors Russia ETF ( RSX)

December has been a rough year for the Russian marketplace as general market jitters have been exacerbated by political unrest. In the face of these hurdles shares of RSX have stuck to a steady, uninterrupted downward path.

Looking to the week ahead, it will be interesting to see what is in store for the Russian marketplace. Last Friday, it was announced that the emerging nation would gain entry into the WTO after 18 years of trying. A 2010 report from The World Bank notes that, in the long run, membership should result in an 11% jump for the nation's GDP.

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

There are still plenty of macroeconomic hurdles plaguing the global markets. In the face of these challenges, however, investors are showing confidence.

Since early October, investors have watched as the fear-tracking VIX index has volleyed back and forth between its 50- and 200-day moving averages. This channel showed signs of cracking last week, when the index broke below the latter level.

Although it is too early to tell whether this is the start of a longer downward trend, the event is worth noting. The last time this closely watched barometer spent a considerable amount of time below this level was back in July.

The index's struggles have translated into choppy action for exchange traded products like VXX. The ETN has tumbled to levels not seen since late October.

SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF ( XHB)

Last week was challenging for the homebuilders as looming market fears drove investors out of growth-correlated sectors. Looking to the week ahead, however, funds like XHB and the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund ( ITB) may be worth keeping an eye on.

This week's economic calendar lists a number of real estate-specific data points. Among the reports slated to be released include housing starts, existing home sales, and new home sales.

It will be interesting to see how these ETFs react to the data on the docket. Investors should stick to the sidelines here, however. The iShares Dow Jones Real Estate Index Fund ( IYR) is a safer bet for housing bulls.

iShares S&P North American Technology Software Index Fund ( IGV)

Software leaders and top IGV components RedHat ( RHT) and Oracle ( ORCL) will report their earnings this week. The two companies represent 13% of the fund's total assets.

IGV has struggled along with other corners of the tech sector as macroeconomic headwinds drive investors away from risk. In recent weeks, however, the fund's inherently defensive nature has shown through. Over the past three month period, IGV has managed to noticeably outperform against fellow concentrated funds like iShares S&P North American Technology Multimedia Networking Index Fund ( IGN) and SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF ( XSD).

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned iShares Gold Trust and iShares Dow Jones Real Estate Index Fund.

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