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Tickers in this Article: KBE, C, RWR, GDX, ABX, SLV
The topsy-turvy activity of the equity markets in the first-half of 2010 has made for an interesting ride so far. The seemingly unpredictable behavior of stocks in recent months has also made for some unlikely winners in the exchange traded fund arena. Here are the four top ETFs of the year so far.

IN PICTURES: 10 Reasons To Add ETFs To Your Portfolio

Straight to the Bank
In terms of non-leveraged, non-inverse ETFs, few have been able to top the year-to-date performance turned in by the SPDR KBW Bank ETF (NYSE:KBE). The fund is up 12.1% since the beginning of the year. The best performing stock among KBE's top five holdings is Citigroup (NYSE:C), which has seen its share price spike 20% in the first-half of the year.

Investors considering this ETF should be closely monitoring happenings on Capitol Hill as lawmakers begin to address the derivatives market as part of their financial reform legislation efforts. Calls for more regulation over the derivatives market could force some of KBE's top holdings to recapitalize their trading desks. Some banks would be more affected than others, but the industry as a whole has been strongly opposed to such measures. (For more insight, see Are Derivatives Financial "Weapons Of Mass Destruction?")

Real Estate ETFs
Commercial real estate has had a surprise performance in the first-half of the year. While many other sectors have been struggling, the SPDR Dow Jones Wilshire REIT ETF (NYSE:RWR) has climbed 6%. Commercial property prices in the U.S. experienced a slight uptick in April, but are still far below their peak 2007 levels. RWR investors should be pleased thus far.

Precious Plays
With fear running rampant in the equity markets, the price of gold has closed in on $1,250 per ounce. This trend has proved beneficial for Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDX), which is up 15% year to date.

The top holding in this fund is Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), which accounts for 16% of the weight of GDX. Barrick received an upgrade from Credit Suisse on Thursday. The company's operating cash flow more than tripled in Q1 to a record $1.05 billion.

Silver has also followed gold in its move up the charts. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSE:SLV) has increased 10% so far this year. The gold to silver ratio has fallen to 65.6 in recent trading sessions. GDX and SLV should both continue to shine this summer in the absence of an improvement in global macroeconomic conditions. (To learn more, see A Beginner's Guide To Precious Metals.)

The Bottom Line
It has been anything but a banner year thus far for ETF investors. Of the more than 1,000 ETFs tracked by Morningstar, only about 100 have returned more than 5% in the first half of the year, and only about 50 have returned more than 10%. It stands to reason that precious metal ETFs have shone in this era of uncertainty, but if investors up their penchant for risk in the second half of the year, we could be looking at an entirely different mix of top performing ETFs by year's end.

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