The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Even an ardent trend-follower who diligently tracks the price of the S&P 500 must be frustrated. Granted, had he/she sold when the heralded benchmark fell below its 200-day moving average in August, he may have protected principal temporarily. However, the strategy would have left one buying and selling for losses in October, November and December. Yikes! Fundamental-valuation wonks have little cause for celebration, either. Some of the most remarkably profitable and successful firms from the technology, energy and industrial sectors began the year trading near decade lows for respective P/E ratios. Did it matter? Earnings may have grown at double-digit rates while prices logged -10%, -20%, even -30%. Apparently, geopolitical concerns from the Middle East to Europe to Asia (think North Korea) have caused so much uncertainty, neither the "bull" nor the "bear" is taking charge. Instead, we've seen little more than erratic price swings. There are, however, three ETF trends that the perma-bears may use for debate. I point them out because it is foolish to ignore these particular facts and not to make the case that stocks as an asset class are doomed. For example, throughout the year, gold held a special place in the hearts of risk-averse investors. And for most of 2011, funds like the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) rewarded believers in the yellow metal's superiority over fiat currency. Granted, gold has taken a swift kick in the backside lately. Credit the flight to Treasuries, the hoarding of cash as well as profit taking by hedge funds. Even still, the precious commodity raked in double-digit percentage gains through Wednesday. Gold's rise should have been a boon to miners big and small. Yet even the established producers in Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX) collectively set new 52-week lows and 18% year-to-date losses. It's difficult to see the trend as anything but bearish for metal and mining production.
Here's another unsettling ETF trend. If someone offered you a diversified investment of global transporters with a collective P/E of 8, a P/S of 0.6 and a yield of 7.5%, would the possibility pique your interest? It should. However, the Guggenheim Shipping Fund ( SEA) has been on a painful voyage to nowhere.
Last, but hardly least, 2011 has been the year of the "euro." U.S. stock assets and the CurrencyShares Euro Trust ( FXE) climbed in tandem throughout the first four months of the year. The record run-up for equities in October can also be attributed to renewed euro-zone confidence, albeit brief. Of course, no matter how you dissect it, the price of FXE is far below its 200-day trendline. It has given up a stunning 12% from the April stock market highs. Equally disconcerting, FXE is trolling the depths of year-over-year lows. In essence, it's difficult to see 2012 breaking free from the euro-net out of the gate. Risk assets may need a bolder initiative out of the region's leaders. Moreover, if shares of mining companies and shipping companies can't get on a more positive track, one might begin to see even more deterioration of resource-rich exporters from Australia to Brazil to South Africa. On the flip side, there are many reasons to believe that China will come to the rescue -- in more ways than one. Its leaders have deftly tamed inflation and are beginning to initiate accommodative fiscal/monetary policies . With it, we should see increased demand for more world resources as well as the shippers who ship those resources. Additionally, if multinational transporters weren't transacting a substantial amount of business, would the iShares DJ Transportation Fund ( IYT) be above its 200-day MA? Would IYT be setting "higher lows" in three consecutive months, surging a remarkable 22% off the October lows? Clearly, the bulls have ammunition of their own. You can listen to the ETF Expert Radio Show "LIVE", via podcast or on your iPod. You can follow me on Twitter @ETFexpert.