Natural gas futures have been in rally mode as of late. Since October 6, the popular but volatile U.S. Natural Gas Fund (UNG) is up 4.7%.
UNG’s upside has been aided by speculation of a cold winter ahead. Earlier this month, meteorologists forecast above-normal temperature trends in the two-week outlooks, which should support demand. With the winter heating season nearby, some traders believe there is a lack of sellers in the market to truly exert pressure on natural gas futures. [Nat Gas ETF Jumps as Winter Looms]
Still, natural gas futures, and as a result, UNG, are volatile and slack production is unlikely to be a catalyst to lift futures or UNG anytime soon. On Tuesday, PIRA Energy Group said of U.S. oil output, which includes natural gas equivalents, the “growth rate is greater than the sum of the growth of the next nine fastest growing countries combined and has covered most of the world’s net demand growth over the past two years .”
There are other ways for investors to take advantage of rising natural gas prices, namely the equity-based First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index Fund (FCG). Although FCG is less volatile than UNG, the former has sharply outpaced the latter in recent months. Over the past 90 days, FCG has surged 16.5% with volatility of 16.4%. Over the same time, UNG is higher by just 1.6% with volatility of 25.1%. [Nat Gas Producer ETF on a Winning Streak]
The $508.5 million FCG tracks the ISE-REVERE Natural Gas Index, which is an equal-weight index. Since the ETF’s median market cap is $6.8 billion, investors can rest assured they will not be highly exposed to sluggish integrated oil stocks. Rather, FCG is allocated to more nimbler, “growthier” exploration and production companies, many of which are actually trying to decrease their gas output in favor of boosting oil production to exploit higher crude prices.
FCG’s top-10 holdings include Quicksilver Resources (KWK), Magnum Hunter (MHR) and Stone Energy (SGY). The ETF is also home to some names that have previously been rumored to be acquisition targets including Anadarko Petroleum (APC) and Range Resources (RRC). [Nat Gas ETF Races to Two-Week High]
While FCG has traded higher by 6.2% in the past month, the fund had spent much of 2013 locked in a $2 range between $15.50 and $17.50. The ETF’s recent breakout and ongoing ability to find support at $19.50 could be a sign it is ready to attack its 2011 high around $22.
First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index Fund