The past several weeks have been a nightmare for equities, as global unrest continues to batter markets. Just as it seemed that the U.S. was making strong progress to pre-recession levels, with the Dow breaking 12,000, protests broke out in the Middle East, causing waves of worry throughout the investing world. As protests spread from country to country, oil and gold began making strong runs as both commodities hit their highest levels seen for quite some time. But now, the Libyan protests are on the backburner as Japan suffered one of the worst earthquakes recorded in history. The quake caused major devastation in the nation, with tidal waves, massive flooding, and several nuclear reactors now in danger of leaking radiation [see also Nuclear ETF Meltdown: Four Funds Rocked By The Japanese Quake].The quake was recorded at a 9.0, and caused warnings and evacuations in at least 20 countries due to tidal waves. Tsunamis struck in various heights all along the Japanese coast, with the highest official recording coming in at roughly 25 feet. To give you an idea of how severe this disaster is, the quake moved Honshu, the main island of Japan, by nearly eight feet, and the entire earth shifted on its axis by nearly four inches. But now that the damage from the massive waves has nearly finished, there is a great fear surrounding several nuclear reactors in the northern part of the country, as the risk of a full scale meltdown remains present [see also Japan ETFs In Focus After Devastating Quake].
With this horrific news, stock markets have been in near free fall the past few days, with nuclear energy firms taking the brunt of the blow. But as the majority of stocks are plummeting, one sector is seeing astronomical gains; solar power. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) gained approximately 5.5% on Monday, and another 8.8% on Tuesday in spite of broad losses and a sharply lower price for crude oil. The likely cause of this is the massive fears that nuclear energy is no longer a safe alternative for energy production, leading many to turn to other forms, such as solar or wind [see also Solar Energy ETFs Shining Bright In 2011].
In light of the current problems facing nuclear energy, and solar energy’s stellar performance this week, today’s ETF to watch will be the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN). This ETF is designed to track companies within various sectors of the solar energy industry. The fund’s top holdings include First Solar (19.6%) and Trina Solar Limited (6.8%), with 60% of its assets invested in international equities. TAN has had a strong year, posting gains of 14.7% thus far in 2011. If bad news persists in Japan, or the nuclear leaks worsen, look for this fund to shine in trading today as investors will increasingly look to solar power as a safe alternative to power the world in the 21st century.
[For more ETFs to watch sign up for our free ETF newsletter.]
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.