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Many energy ETFs are in negative territory for 2012 and lagging the overall market on oil weakness. However, the sector funds are off to a strong start for the back half of the year and are poised to benefit from a rebound in energy prices.

Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLE) is down about 3% year to date.

The first half of 2012 is history and investors may be tempted to look back at the past performance of ETF winners and losers to help guide future decisions. However, buying low and selling high is the name of the game. Bottom fishers may want to take a look at ETFs tracking energy and international stocks.

"The S&P 500 Index rose 9.5% in the first six months of 2012, while the MSCI EAFE Index was up just 0.8% amid investor's concerns about sovereign issues in Europe. Sorting through the 391 equity ETFs that invested in the U.S. and currently ranked by S&P Capital IQ, we find that just over a quarter of them (108) outperformed the S&P 500," Todd Rosenbluth, analyst at S&P Capital IQ, wrote in a recent note.

As Europe's debt crisis had investors fleeing overseas markets and commodities in the first half of 2012, reports Trang Ho for Investor's Business Daily, it could be time for investors to take a contrarian stance for the second half of the year.

Despite the slowing demand for oil on a global level, the ongoing conflict between OPEC members regarding oil production levels and possible military conflict in Iran support a positive outlook for ETFs such as the iShares S&P Global Energy Sector Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IXC). S&P Capital IQ also ranks the Market Vectors OIl Services ETF (NYSEARCA:OIH) overweight.

PowerShares KBW Bank Portfolio (NYSEARCA:KBWB) is another ETF ranked overweight by S&P Capital. Regional banks, diversified banks and other financial service companies are represented in the index. This ETF managed a 17% gain despite the second quarter pullback for the financial sector, reports Rosenbluth.

SPDR S&P Biotech (NYSEARCA:XBI) is an ETF ranked overweight by S&P Capital as the sector has managed to remain strong amid macroeconomic headwinds, Benzinga reports on MarketWatch. In the future, new drug approvals and a pick up in merger and acquisition activity supports the outlook.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Energy ETFs Start Second Half With A Bang