SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD)

Given gold's shaky action in December, it is not surprising that investors fled from GLD during the final weeks of 2012. According to the fund flow data compiled by the ETF Industry Association, the physically backed behemoth saw over $2.2 billion in outflows during the course of the month. The iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) saw only $17 million head for the exits.

The 2011 flow performance of these two bullion-backed products helps to highlight the influence of the ongoing ETF price wars. Over the course of the year, GLD saw net outflows totaling $372 million. The cheaper IAU, meanwhile, welcomed $2.7 billion into its ranks -- a 66% increase in inflows from 2010.

Over the past few days, both IAU and GLD have enjoyed a welcomed string of strength. It will be interesting to see if they can hang onto these gains as we move ahead.

iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund ( EWY)

Last Friday, Samsung, the South Korea-based tech giant, reported strong earnings. This news bodes well for EWY, which lists the firm as its largest holding, accounting for a fifth of its assets.

Strong smartphone sales were fingered as a major contributor to the company's record quarterly profits. In October, the firm officially became the leading player in the smartphone industry.

EWY will continue to be a fund to watch this week as South Korea and China meet to discuss the possibility of a free-trade relationship. Such an agreement would bode well for the export-driven South Korean economy.

Despite the seemingly optimistic news from this corner of Asia, investors tempted to jump into EWY should exercise caution. The fund's top-heavy nature, combined with the ongoing tensions in the northern half of the peninsula, will likely ensure that volatility persists here.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.


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

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