Tickers in this Article: USO, GLD, TLT, SKF
November has been a rough month for equity investors as sovereign debt worries in Europe have reared their ugly head. The S&P 500 has lost 7.1% since the beginning of the month, and investors have been scrambling for cover. There have been a few bright areas of the market, but not many. Here are four exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that have managed to push higher in the face of the adversity. (To know more about sovereign debt, read: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Sovereign Debt Defaults.)

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Carrying on With Commodities
Even as equities have struggled in recent weeks, crude prices have continued to trend higher. The United States Oil Fund (ARCA:USO) has surged 7.3% in the month of November. The current backdrop continues to look favorable for oil investors.

The Department of Energy reported that commercial oil inventories plunged by 6.2 million barrels last week. The steeper than expected drop occurred as refineries have seen a slight uptick in their utilization rates. The uncertainty that has accompanied the current political climate in the Middle East has also been a factor that has made for elevated crude prices globally

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (ARCA:GLD) has not advanced as much as USO did in November, but it has certainly held its own compared to the vast majority of other index funds. Gold prices have taken a bit of a breather since their September high, but the precious metal continues to intrigue investors seeking an asset class that will serve as a store of value. Shares of SPDR Gold Shares ETF are up 0.5% so far this month.

Flight to Safety
A similar sentiment has also given a boost to the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (ARCA:TLT). The ETF which tracks the performance of longer term treasury bonds is up 3.3% since the beginning of the month.

The European debt crisis coupled with the inability of Congress to make any meaningful progress in agreeing to budget cuts has made TLT an attractive safe-play investment. This fund could suffer a setback if investors were to up their appetite for risk, but recently this has been anything but the trend. The last time that TLT was trading at such lofty prices was in late 2008.

Any ETF that bet against the financial services sector in November has been a winner. The ProShares UltraShort Financials ETF (ARCA:SKF) posted a 14.8% gain during the month of November. The threat of a contagion effect from troubles in Europe has hurt the stock prices of U.S. financial institutions. The negative trend has put SKF on an upward trajectory after a sharp October selloff. (To know more about ETF, read: An Inside Look At ETF Construction.)

The Bottom Line
It has been an unpredictable ride for index investors, from the ups of October through the downs of November. Safe-haven plays have outperformed in these volatile conditions, and appear to be well-positioned as uncertainty continues to linger. As we come down the homestretch of 2011, it will be interesting to see whether these ETFs have the endurance to hang on in December or will end up fizzling out as the year comes to a close.

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At the time of writing, Billy Fisher did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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