This year, commodity-focused exchange traded funds were the stars of the show. In fact, they were so strong that their performance helped lift economies dependent on them. But they weren’t the only asset classes that did well.
The Top ETFs of 2010
1. iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV), ETFS Physical Silver (NYSEArca: SIVR) and PowerShares DB Silver (NYSEArca: DBS): The physical silver ETFs were both up 82%, while the PowerShares silver ETF was up 81.2%. A rush of industrial demand, safe-haven seeking and investment demand helped push silver prices to their highest levels in more than 30 years.
2. Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDXJ): Gained 66.5% this year. Gold miners have been enjoying great profit margins, thanks to record gold prices. Junior gold miners are sitting even prettier, thanks to their ability to streamline operations and ramp up production as needed.
3. iShares MSCI Peru (NYSEArca: EPU): Gained 57.2% this year. In the hot Latin American economy, Peru still remains one of the standouts. Peru boasts one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies, with an 8.3% growth rate this year alone. Peru’s main index also climbed the most among the developing countries in MSCI’s emerging markets index, largely on the back of copper prices, says Bloomberg.
4. iShares MSCI Thailand (NYSEArca: THD): Gained 53.3% this year. It’s a testament to Thailand’s growing economy that this ETF was able to withstand political turmoil and unrest that took hold in the country this year. Exports are rising, its currency is strengthening and vehicle production is on the climb.
5. Global X/InterBolsa FTSE Colombia (NYSEArca: GXG): Gained 51.7% this year; like Peru, Colombia enjoys abundant natural resources, improving domestic demand and strong consumer confidence.
The Top ETNs of 2010
1. iPath DJ-AIG Cotton (NYSEArca: BAL): Gained 96.2% this year. Cotton prices rose and rose…and rose…thanks to a mixture of bad weather, surging demand and a shortage of supplies.
2. iPath DJ-AIG Coffee (NYSEArca: JO): Gained 65.4% this year. Your cuppa joe may have gotten more pricey this year. Coffee is going for the highest price in nearly 14 years. You can blame the bad weather in coffee-producing countries once again.
3. iPath DJ-AIG Softs (NYSEArca: JJS): Gained 58.9% this year. This ETN tracks a basket of futures on coffee, cotton and sugar. Given that they were three of the hottest commodities going this year, this fund really benefited.
4. iPath DJ-AIG Agriculture (NYSEArca: JJA): Gained 38.4% this year. Corn, wheat, sugar, you name it, agriculture was on fire. Too much rain, too little rain and a lot of demand seemingly conspired to boost prices that many think will continue to rise in 2011.
5. ELEMENTS Rogers International Commodity Agriculture ETN (NYSEArca: RJA): Gained 35% this year. Another ETN that benefited mightily from soaring commodity prices. This one tracks a basket of 20 commodity futures contracts.
The Top Leveraged and Inverse ETFs of 2010
1. ProShares Ultra Silver (NYSEArca: AGQ): Gained 182.3% this year. Silver shined this year, and leveraged ETFs felt it the most.
2. Direxion Daily Small Cap Bull 3x Shares (NYSEArca: TNA): Gained 69.8% this year. In keeping with historical tradition, small-caps performed well coming out of the recession.
3. Direxion Daily Mid Cap Bull 3x Shares (NYSEArca: MWJ): Gained 65.7% this year. Like small-caps, mid-caps also enjoyed strength in 2010 thanks to their flexibility in adjusting to economic changes.
4. Direxion Daily Real Estate Bull 3x Shares (NYSEArca: DRN): Gained 63% this year. Despite the real estate market’s continued struggles, this fund benefited from its exposure to REITs, which were a hot asset class this year.
5. ProShares Ultra Gold (NYSEArca: UGL): Gained 58% this year. Gold prices surged nearly 30% this year, giving this leveraged ETF a boost.