The last few years have seen a proliferation of leveraged investment funds. First 2x, then 3x the daily performance of any number of indexes were offered by several ETF providers. Moreover, investors could choose between long and short products - funds that returned, for example, a multiple of the inverse of the Dow Jones Industrials Average.

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Below we've mapped out several of the highlights over the past twelve months from the leveraged ETFs category.

Ultra Returns from Ultra Tech
The ProShares Ultra Technology ETF (NYSE:ROM), which returned a gigantic 130% in 2009, continued its trek in 2010 by posting a gain of 20%. The fund performed particularly well over the last 6 months, rewarding investors with a return of 49.5%. ROM seeks to produce exactly twice the return of the Dow Jones U.S. Technology Index.

Basic Materials were Basically Great
The ProShares Ultra Basic Materials ETF (NYSE:UYM) seeks to return double the daily performance of the Dow Jones U.S. Basic Materials Index. This index is a collection of U.S. based miners, chemical producers, and forest and paper product companies. This ETF returned 39.21% over the twelve months, and has returned better than 7.6% in the last month alone. (If you are interested in this sector, then check out our latest article Basic Materials Stocks With Triple Digit Returns)

ProShares Ultra QQQ ETF (NYSE:QLD), which seeks to return twice the results of the NASDAQ 100 on a daily basis rose over 41.69% in the past twelve months and tacked on better than 25% in the last quarter.

A Silver Lining and Sunny Days
Within the mining sector, the silver group was an especially strong performer. The ProShares Ultra Silver ETF (NYSE:AGQ) is dedicated to returning 200% of the daily move in silver as measured by the Londonspot silver fixing price and ended the past twelve months with an amazing gain of 109.3%. The fund holds no actual silver, opting instead to trade in silver related financial instruments such as futures and options to achieve its aims.

The Wrap
Leveraged ETFs shone for those investors who chose the right sectors over the last year. For those who did not, of course, the results were gloomier. The leveraged game is not a slam-dunk by any stretch, and is best played with all investment precautions taken. (To learn about the structure of leveraged ETFs read Dissecting Leveraged ETF Returns.)

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