The Best and Worst Sector ETFs of 2014

by on December 16, 2014

After getting off to a shaky start in 2014, U.S. equity markets managed to continue their upward trend, with positive domestic economic data fueling bullish momentum. While major U.S. benchmarks are on track to log in another year of impressive returns in 2014, several corners of the market fared much better than others [see also The Best and Worst Performing Dividend ETFs of 2014].

Below, we highlight 2014’s best and worst Sector ETF performers. In an effort to avoid duplicates, we have profiled only the best or worst performing ETF from a particular sector; for example, if five different China technology ETFs made the list, we only feature the single best (or worst) performing one. Please also note that this list excludes inverse and leveraged ETFs (see All Sector ETFs) and the year-to-date returns are as of December 12, 2014:

The Best Performers


This year, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and biotech equities once again logged in impressive returns. Transportation equities were also among the top performers, benefitting from falling oil prices. Surprisingly, the North American Energy Infrastructure Fund (EMLP) was one of the only energy funds that managed to post positive returns this year. 

The Worst Performers


Oil producers, explorers, and oil equipment and services companies were hit hard by the roughly 30% decline in crude seen this year. Other commodities such as metals did not fare as well either; metal miners and junior minors ended 2014 in the red.

The table below lists each ETF in the above charts:

ETF YTD Return
NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (FBT) 46.9%
Dynamic Semiconductors ETF (PSI) 31.3%
S&P Equal Weight Health Care ETF (RYH) 28.2%
U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE) 28.1%
SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN) 27.5%
Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) 24.1%
NASDAQ-100-Technology Sector Index Fund (QTEC) 22.9%
U.S. Medical Devices ETF (IHI) 20.8%
Consumer Staples AlphaDEX Fund (FXG) 18.1%
North American Energy Infrastructure Fund (EMLP) 16.8%
Market Vectors Gaming ETF (BJK) -24.9%
Junior Miners ETF (JUNR) -25.2%
Yorkville High Income MLP ETF (YMLP) -27.1%
SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (XME) -27.8%
Market Vectors Steel Index ETF Fund (SLX) -30.4%
Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (REMX) -30.9%
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Explor & Product (XOP) -35.5%
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equip & Service (XES) -40.1%
S&P SmallCap Energy Portfolio (PSCE) -43.7%
ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index Fund (FCG) -46.6%

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Disclosure: All data as of 12/15/2014. No positions at time of writing.