Coal And Emerging Markets Lead ETFs

The top-performing nonleveraged ETF of 2009 was Market Vectors Coal (NYSEArca:KOL – News). After losing 64% in 2008, KOL bounced back with a whopping 144% return.

Prices for coal sold to Japanese and other Asian steel makers are likely to rise in 2010, Scotiabank says.

Each of the top 10 foreign ETFs in performance were in emerging markets. IShares MSCI Emerging Markets (NYSEArca:EEM – News), the largest developing-market fund by assets, climbed 65% last year after diving 50% in 2008.

The economies of developing countries as a group grew 1.70% in 2009, according to the International Monetary Fund. They’re estimated to expand by 5% in 2010 and 6% in 2011. The gross domestic product of the advanced G-7 countries contracted by 3.4% in 2009 and is seen ticking up 1.3% in 2010 and 2.4% in 2011.

Investors poured record amounts of money into emerging market funds at the expense of developed markets. [Read the full article]

In our first editorial after Barack Obama’s historic victory in November 2008, we acknowledged that “we were witnessing an event in which all Americans can take justifiable pride.”

“More than any other development,” we said, “the election of an African-American as president will show that most of us have indeed moved on, overcoming prejudice and fulfilling the promise than anyone can achieve anything in this great country if they set their mind to it.”

But the election of this charismatic and well-spoken new leader may be momentous in another way, we added. “We may have elected not only one of the least experienced candidates in our history, but also one who may be guided by some principles different from what we’re used to and on which the nation was founded.

“In fact, we may be installing the first president who openly favors change that, as unaccustomed as we are to the word, can only be described as socialistic.”

We didn’t use that word lightly. [Read the full article]

Democrats in 2009 moved to vastly expand the size and scope of government. But with the public already souring on Washington, 2010 may see limits on the new largesse.

The clearest example is health care. As legislation to overhaul one-sixth of the economy contorted and morphed to pass the Senate, support plunged. The health bill may go through, but with midterm elections looming, other big items on the liberal agenda could stall.

Other areas of government intervention and possible expansion include the economy. Will the recovery need a second shot of stimulus?

1 After a horrific bear market and one of the best recoveries in history, what can be expected of stocks in 2010?

The case for a continued rebound seems as persuasive as the argument for a significant correction.

Major indexes are near 52-week highs. But little conviction — manifested by few advances in strong volume — could be the market’s soft underbelly.

The strength of the economic recovery will be key. [Read the full article]

ISM-Chicago revised down its Dec. Midwest activity index to 58.7 from the 60 it reported on Wed. It’s still above 50, indicating expansion. But the jobs measure contracted rather than expanding as first reported. ISM-Chicago cited seasonal factors for the revision.

China said it was “strongly dissatisfied with” a Wed. U.S. decision to impose duties of 10%-16% on Chinese steel pipe, accusing Washington of ignoring facts. COMING UP MONDAY

ISM manufacturing index for Dec., 10 a.m. EST (forecast: 54). Construction spending for Nov., 10 a.m. EST (forecast: -0.5%).

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