5 ETFs to watch this week

Exchange-traded funds tracking oil, alternative energy stocks and energy-producing countries like Canada and Russia will be in the spotlight as global unrest continues.

By TheStreet Staff Feb 28, 2011 11:03AM

Image: Oil drums (© Kevin Phillips/Digital Vision/age fotostock)By Don Dion, TheStreet


Here are five exchange-traded funds worth watching this week.


1. United States Oil Fund (USO)


Political tensions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa stoked fears last week, causing the market to perform in a shaky manner. As protestors took to the streets across this region, investors directed their attention to the oil industry


Looking to the coming week, unrest appears set to continue and the futures-based USO will be an interesting fund to keep an eye on as the markets debate how these demonstrations will impact production. Investors looking for a more conservative way to target the crude oil industry may find an equity-backed position such as the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES) an attractive option.


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2. Guggenheim Solar Energy ETF (TAN)


In the event that oil prices are in for gains in coming days, alternative energy may be another area of the market to keep an eye on.

As rising costs of traditional energy sources begin to hit home, investors and consumers may begin to mull a range of alternative options. TAN provides investors with exposure to a number of global solar industry names. Top holdings include First Solar (FSLR), Trina Solar (TSL),Renewable Energy (REC) and MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR).


The solar energy industry and other green facets of the energy sector may prove attractive in the coming weeks if oil prices continue to rise. However, conservative investors should take note that TAN is volatile. Use caution in this region.


3. iShares MSCI Canada Index Fund (EWC)


A trio of leading Canadian banks is slated to release their quarterly earnings numbers, putting EWC in the spotlight. Together, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), and the Bank of Montreal (BMO) account for close to 15% of the fund's total portfolio. Fellow top holding, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ) is listed on this week's earnings calendar as well. CNQ represents an additional 3.7% of the fund's total index.


Canada's heavy exposure to energy makes it an attractive destination for investors looking for commodity-linked domestic market exposure. Those looking for a pure way to access the Canadian oil and gas industries should turn to the Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income ETF (ENY).


4. iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund (DVY)


The market had an impressive run in the opening weeks of the new year. However, as we have seen in the closing weeks of February, there still exist a number of political and economic factors which may produce headwinds in the near future.

Although I remain confident that the global economic recovery is intact, it will be important to maintain a level of defense to protect against hurdles down the road. DVY provides investors with exposure to a diverse collection of large and mid-cap companies that boast comfortable dividends. The consistent payout from this fund will provide some comfort as choppy economic weather pans out.


5. Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX)


BRIC-related ETFs such as theiShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI), the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (EWZ) and the WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (EPI) have struggled throughout the opening months of 2011 as inflation fears and political unrest once again remind investors of the volatility that can come with exposure to emerging markets.


By contrast, the Russia-tracking Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) has become a standout performer, locking in positive year-to-date performance. RSX's strength lies in its heavy exposure to energy. Investors with exposure to this nation will want to keep a close watch on oil in the coming weeks. RSX should remain buoyed if energy prices remain in vogue.


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