NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are this week's ETF winners and losers.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund ( ITB) 5% Since the start of October, homebuilders have managed to carve out a steady upward path, helping both ITB and the SPDR S&P Homebuilder ETF ( XHB) pierce major moving averages and recover the vast majority of the losses from their early-August meltdown. In the opening days of the new year this strength has continued. Next Wednesday, Lennar ( LEN) is slated to kick off earnings season for this industry. This report will directly impact the performance of homebuilder-related ETFs because the firm is a top-10 holding in both ITB and XHB. Market Vectors Steel ETF ( SLX) 4.6% Two days of strength at the start of the week were enough to propel the steel producer tracking SLX onto this week's winners list. Like other ETFs linked to growth-correlated industries, SLX suffered in the second half of 2011 as global macroeconomic headwinds wreaked havoc on investor confidence. With Europe still embroiled in its sovereign debt woes, and emerging nations working diligently to stay on the growth path, the outlook for steel and other market-correlated industries will remain cloudy. Investors should continue to be prudent. While it can be tempting to dive into risk during periods of strength, be sure to maintain an element of protection. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our PolliShares Silver Trust ( SLV) 3.7% It has been a rough couple of months for silver as looming market headwinds have driven investors out of industry-linked commodities. During the final days of 2011 and opening week of 2012, however, there have been some glimmers of strength as SLV has enjoyed a welcome bounce. The fund's ability to hold onto these gains will likely be tested as market turmoil continues to weigh on sentiment. Investors looking to place a bet on the future prospects of silver should keep any exposure small. At the same time that silver was pushing higher, palladium prices were taking a shot across the bow. ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL) tumbled over 5.5% this past week for one of the ETF industry's biggest losses.