The first quarter of 2006 is in the history books and except for bond indexes, the performance of exchange-traded funds in most categories was good.
Strong gains were posted in international and emerging market ETFs, with the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China Index (FXI) ahead by 20.55 percent. In South America, Brazil continued its stellar run that began a few years ago. The iShares MSCI Brazil index was up a sizzling 19.72 percent. In Europe, the iShares MSCI Germany index (EWG) was up 13.49 percent.
Among other leading performers, sector ETFs produced a number of winners. The
PowerShares Wilderhill Clean Energy (PBW) was up 31.19 percent, the streetTRACKS Gold Shares was ahead by 12.64 percent, and in the technology area, the iShares Goldman Sachs Networking index (IGN) powered ahead by 17.81 percent. Real estate was another solid performing group with the Vanguard REIT VIPERs (VNQ) increasing by 14.04 percent.
In the S&P 500 index, the S&P Select Energy SPDR Fund (XLE) gained 8.1 percent, making it the best performing of the Select Sector SPDRs for the first quarter. Close behind was the S&P Select Industrial SPDR Fund (XLI), up 7.6 percent and Basic Materials (XLB), up 6.8 percent.