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.
United States Natural Gas Fund ( UNG) 3% Natural gas futures prices have yo-yoed over the course of the first week of 2012 trading but they are in solid positive territory at the close of the week. Comparatively, other energy futures-linked funds including the United States Oil Fund ( USO) and United States Gasoline Fund ( UGA) are unchanged. SPDR S&P Biotech ETF ( XBI) 1.9% Closely watched Dendreon ( DNDN) is capitalizing on Thursday's big move with another day of double-digit percentage gains. This upward action is helping to propel XBI and the First Trust Dow Amex Biotechnology Index Fund ( FBT) to their second day towards the top of the winners list. Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF ( REMX) 1.3% Although it floundered through most of the final month of 2011, the rare earth metal producer ETF has managed to stage a bit of a comeback in recent days. Over the past six trading sessions, the fund has had only one day of negative action. Though encouraging, REMX still has a great deal of ground to cover before regaining levels seen prior to its early-August sell-off.
ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL) -3.7% Despite kicking off the New Year on a positive note, palladium has struggled to find footing this week. Thanks to a three-day slide, the bullion-based PALL has retreated below its 50-day moving average, returning to the lows seen before its late 2011 rally. Other physically based precious metal ETFs are seeing more limited moves to the downside. iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund ( EWY) -2.4% EWY's top holding Samsung reported record-breaking quarterly profits this morning. Despite this standout performance, the South Korea ETF is struggling to power higher. Investors interested in this corner of the Asian continent should exercise caution because tensions with the North threaten to ensure continued volatility here. A number of other international ETFs are heading lower at the end of the week. The iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund ( EWI), iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index Fund ( TUR) and Guggenheim China Small Cap ETF ( HAO) are a few of the standout decliners.