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.
While this recent move higher has been encouraging, small-cap gold miners like those underlying GLDX are not for the faint of heart. On the contrary, those who try their luck with this fund should be prepared for wild day-to-day swings. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) 2.6% Though it failed to push into positive territory on Thursday, the UNG is securing a top spot on the winner's list as the weekend approaches. The same can be said for the troubled iPath Dow Jones UBS Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN ( GAZ). The fund started off the day with slight losses, but has since punched into positive territory. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund (ITB) 2.5% The iShares-branded homebuilder ETF has extended its winning streak to four days, ascending to brand new 2012 highs. The SPDR S&P Homebuilder ETF ( XHB) is also locking in a fourth day of gains. Its move is less dramatic than ITB's or XHB's, but the iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund ( ICF) is also preparing to close out the week in positive territory.
WinnersGlobal X Gold Explorers ETF (GLDX) 2.9% A three-day rally has helped GLDX recover a respectable portion of the losses suffered during the opening half of April. This young product has had a tough start; since peaking in early 2011, it has struggled to break out of a prolonged downward path.
LosersWisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity ETF (DXJ )-1.3% DXJ has a mechanism in place that allows investors to hedge against fluctuations from the Japan's currency. While this helps the fund outperform unhedged products like the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund ( EWJ) during periods of yen weakness, it lags when the yen heads higher. The fund is behaving accordingly today. As the yen pushes higher, DXJ is suffering standout losses. EWJ, meanwhile, is off less than 1%. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare Providers Index Fund (IHF) -0.8% An earnings miss from Coventry Health Care has caused the company's share price to tumble over 8%. IHF lists the firm as its 10th largest position, accounting for over 2% of its portfolio. No. four holding, Aetna ( AET) is also seeing pressure, dropping more than 3%.
IHF may appear attractive for investors looking to tap into the health care sector, but caution is warranted here. The fund's two largest holdings: UnitedHealth Group ( UNH) and Express Scripts ( ESRX), together account for more than a quarter of its total portfolio. Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (KWT) -0.6% While major stock market averages managed to find some footing this week, it has been stop and go for the solar sector. With global turmoil still weighing heavily, funds like KWT and are struggling to stage a bounce off all-time lows. In the week ahead, industry giant, First Solar ( FSLR) is slated to step up to the earnings plate. While a strong showing may help to reinvigorate this corner of the alternative energy industry, I advise investors to stick to the sidelines.