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The 5 Best Performing ETFs of 2013 Thus Far


Leveraged ETFs lead the way.

More than three months into 2013, US equities have performed impressively, regardless of whether you believe the rally to be based on market fundamentals or the Federal Reserve's easy-money policies. The Dow Jones Index (INDEXDJX:.DJI) has hit all-time highs for eight straight days, while the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) was at one point also within 10 points of its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 set on Oct. 9, 2007.

Likewise, ETFs have had a strong start to the year. According to, ETF assets have grown 7.8%, or $105.40 billion, year-to-date. Of the more than 1,400 ETF products out there in the marketplace, here are the five best-performing exchange traded funds with average daily trading volume above 100,000 of 2013 so far:

Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bear 3x Shares ETF (NYSEARCA:DUST)
With the bearish 2013 consensus on gold -- the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) is down 5.18% this year -- DUST, which tracks the inverse of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (INDEXNYSEGIS:GDM), has surged some 73.88% year-to-date.

Of course, if you believe that gold prices are due for a rebound, then you would consider the bull version of DUST, which is the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3x Shares ETF (NYSEARCA:NUGT), down 50.59% year-to-date.

DUST, a leveraged ETF, has an expense ratio of 0.95% and a net asset value of $44.11 million. Its current market cap is $43.93 million.

Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares (NYSEARCA:SOXL)
With the bullish performance of equities thus far in 2013, it's unsurprising that triple-long (3x) equity ETFs like SOXL have soared this year. SOXL seeks to deliver 300% the daily performance of the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index (INDEXNASDAQ:SOX), which measures the performance of the semiconductor sector. The ETF is up 47.04% year-to-date.

SOXL has 31 components, with the largest being Texas Instrument (NASDAQ:TXN) (8.19%), Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) (8.05%) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) (7.50%).

The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.95% and a net asset value of $78.74 million. Its current market cap is $78.82 million.

VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEARCA:XIV)
Is uncertainty low in the market? That would certainly appear to be the case based on the performance of XIV, which is a bet against the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, which puts a concrete value of expected volality in the next 30 days. XIV is up 37.05% year-to-date.

XIV's strong performance this year follows a blockbuster 2012. For the year ended Dec. 5, 2012, XIV soared 221%, more than tripling its price. The ETF was "an unqualified success in terms of assets and performance," wrote Bill Luby at the VIX and More blog.

Similar to XIV, the Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEARCA:SVXY) is also up 36.38% so far this year.

XIV has an expense ratio of 1.35% and a net asset value of $521.37 million. Its current market cap is $519.00 million.

Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares (NYSEARCA:FAS)
FAS has gained 36.73% so far in 2013, thanks to the strong performance of financial stocks. This leveraged ETF tracks the Russell 1000 Financial Services Index (INDEXRUSSELL:R1RGSFS), which measures the performance of large-cap financials.

FAS has 219 components, with the largest being JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) (6.73%), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) (6.45%), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) (6.31%).

The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.95% and a net asset value of $1.13 billion. Its current market cap is $1.13 billion.

ProShares UltraPro Dow 30 (NYSEARCA:UDOW)
UDOW seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, that correspond to triple (300%) the daily performance of the Dow. Thanks to the 10% surge of the Dow in 2013, the ETF is up 35.52% year-to-date.

On the flip side, the ProShares UltraPro Short Dow 30 ETF (NYSEARCA:SDOW), which also tracks the Dow but with a -300% inverse correlation, is down 27.69% this year.

UDOW's top holdings are IBM (NYSE:IBM) (11.18%), Chevron (NYSE:CVX) (6.28%), and 3M (NYSE:MMM) (5.58%).

The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.95% and a net asset value of $55.48 million. Its current market cap is $55.52 million.

Twitter: @sterlingwong
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