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Below are the 20 hottest ETFs (excluding leveraged funds) at the close of the year January 31st, 2009, based on their 6 month performance. These are not 'buy' recommendations or aggregate portfolios for investment. My favorite way to use this list is: a) to get a sense for the biggest intermediate trends and b) as potential short-term trading opportunities. If you are comfortable using your own technical analysis that is the preferred way.
Trend lines and support/resistance levels are some of the simplest and most powerful tools for analyzing price charts. An investor could also use proprietary trading signals from companies such as Marketclub. For example, the top unleveraged ETF SGG was on a monthly Marketclub sell signal on 9/15/08 at 46.60 and then a buy on 2/26/09 at 46.38 and has been a buy since that date (SGG closed at 83.10 on 2/2/10).
Data includes leveraged ETFs and the data source is FINVIZ.com. The unleveraged list is the second table. For real time tracking of this list see the right hand side of my blog.

Ticker Company Free Trend Analysis Performance (Half Year) Year 200-Day SMA Price
DRN Direxion Daily Real Estate Bull 3X Shrs Here 51.14%
0.95% 118.9
SGG iPath DJ AIG Sugar TR Sub-Idx ETN Here 46.40% 89.49% 35.18% 83.11
URE Ultra Real Estate ProShares Here 44.13% 40.18% 21.18% 6.14
FAA Claymore/NYSE Arca Airline Here 40.54%
23.75% 29.92
RSX Market Vectors Russia ETF Here 38.50% 182.29% 20.76% 31.08
BDD PowerShares DB Base Metals Dble Long ETN Here 32.94% 182.01% 14.61% 13.48
AGQ Ultra Silver ProShares Here 31.02% 38.70% -1.95% 51.32
BHH B2B Internet HOLDRs Here 30.28% 95.42% 20.86% 0.47
UVU Ultra Russell MidCap Value ProShares Here 29.91% 75.78% 17.88% 23.34
UGL Ultra Gold ProShares Here 29.85% 29.46% 10.91% 43.37
DGP PowerShares DB Gold Double Long ETN Here 29.50% 31.29% 10.56% 25.68
UXI Ultra Industrials ProShares Here 28.53% 60.19% 15.42% 29.33
RPV Rydex S&P 500 Pure Value Here 27.58% 72.15% 16.94% 23.7
UCC Ultra Consumer Services ProShares Here 27.31% 79.08% 16.94% 31.93
FIO iShares FTSE NAREIT Industrl/Offc Cp Idx Here 26.91% 33.55% 14.39% 22.45
UPRO UltraPro S&P500 ProShares Here 26.87%
4.57% 133.81
BRF Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF Here 26.76%
8.99% 41.83
CSD Claymore/Beacon Spin-Off Here 26.41% 62.69% 16.65% 18.6
RHM Rydex 2x S&P Select Sector Health Care Here 26.38% 36.22% 24.20% 68.22
ICF iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Here 26.33% 38.85% 13.75% 49.32


Unleveraged top 20:


Ticker Company Free Trend Analysis Performance (Half Year) Year 200-Day SMA Price
SGG iPath DJ AIG Sugar TR Sub-Idx ETN Here 46.40% 89.49% 35.18% 83.11
FAA Claymore/NYSE Arca Airline Here 40.54%
23.75% 29.92
RSX Market Vectors Russia ETF Here 38.50% 182.29% 20.76% 31.08
BHH B2B Internet HOLDRs Here 30.28% 95.42% 20.86% 0.47
RPV Rydex S&P 500 Pure Value Here 27.58% 72.15% 16.94% 23.7
FIO iShares FTSE NAREIT Industrl/Offc Cp Idx Here 26.91% 33.55% 14.39% 22.45
BRF Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF Here 26.76%
8.99% 41.83
CSD Claymore/Beacon Spin-Off Here 26.41% 62.69% 16.65% 18.6
ICF iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Here 26.33% 38.85% 13.75% 49.32
RWR SPDR Dow Jones REIT Here 26.01% 41.52% 13.83% 46.32
PTM UBS E-TRACS Long Platinum TR ETN Here 25.82% 50.97% 13.69% 17.98
VNQ Vanguard REIT Index ETF Here 25.77% 40.67% 13.83% 42.27
PGM iPath DJ AIG Platinum TR Sub-Idx ETN Here 25.45% 50.09% 10.61% 35.99
IFNA iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT North America Here 25.39% 41.16% 14.95% 31.31
FRI First Trust S&P REIT Here 24.94% 33.70% 13.88% 11.07
TUR iShares MSCI Turkey Invest Mkt Index Here 24.74% 134.01% 24.26% 55.67
PSR PowerShares Active U.S. Real Estate Here 24.33% 36.12% 13.48% 34.89
GXG Global X/InterBolsa FTSE Colombia 20 ETF Here 24.05%
17.00% 29.25
IYR iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate Here 23.66% 42.02% 13.28% 43.43
GUR SPDR S&P Emerging Europe Here 23.64% 108.74% 14.24% 42.73

Disclosure: No Positions

Source: January's 20 Hottest ETFs