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2 Commodity ETFs Surging Double Digits in 1H - ETF News And Commentary

Sweta Killa

After a dreadful 2014, broad commodities have continued to underperform this year too. This is especially true in the backdrop of a strong dollar, lower oil price and weak global fundamentals that have dampened the appeal for these commodities.


While the U.S. economy is improving, slowdown in the world’s largest consumer of raw materials – China – as well as sluggish growth in Europe, Japan and other emerging markets has added to the woes. Additionally, both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have lowered their global growth forecast for the next two years, putting further pressure on commodity prices.


Apart from these, continued bullishness in the stock market and an increased appetite for riskier assets are tempering demand for commodities across the globe with an extreme bearish outlook on a number of commodities like natural gas, coffee, sugar, wheat, corn, platinum, nickel and copper (read: Will Recent Gains in Copper Mining ETFs Last?).


Nevertheless, there are still some winners in this space that have performed extremely well this year defying the weak trend. Below, we have highlighted two ETFs that have gained in double-digits in the first half of 2015 and could make for solid picks in the coming months if the same trend persists.


United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) – Up 18.27%


Gasoline has been the top performer in the broad commodity space this year driven by increased consumption and resurgence in road travel. Notably, U.S. motorists drove a record 987.8 billion miles in the first four months of 2015, up 3.9% year over year. Additionally, freezing temperatures in the first quarter and scheduled maintenance propped up the prices.


The trend is likely to continue given the expectation of strong demand in summer months that will likely ease the global supply glut and continue to propel gasoline prices (read: Can the Gasoline ETF Continue to Surge?).


The best way to tap this trend is with UGA. It provides investors exposure to front-month gasoline futures, tracking RBOB gasoline for delivery to the New York harbor, which is traded on NYMEX. The ETF is less liquid with daily trading volume of about 80,000, suggesting that investors have to pay extra beyond the annual fee of 60 bps per year. The fund has managed assets of $102.9 million.


iPath Pure Beta Cocoa ETN (CHOC) – Up 13.48%


Cocoa price has been on the rise on an ever-increasing chocolate demand and shrinking supply in the two largest producing nations of West Africa – Ivory Coast and Ghana – due to the Ebola outbreak of last year and bad weather conditions in the first quarter. With soaring demand and limited supply, cocoa is expected to climb.


Further, the El Niño, a weather event with global consequences, forecasted to arrive later this year could hamper cocoa production, sending prices higher. Investors seeking to play this rally in cocoa prices could find CHOC an intriguing option. This note seeks to match the performance of the Barclays Cocoa Pure Beta Total Return Index. Unlike many commodity indexes, this can roll into one of a number of futures contracts with varying expiration dates, as selected, using the Barclays Pure Beta Series 2 Methodology (read: Can El Nino Boost Agricultural ETFs?).


This approach results in less contango, which is an important factor, as shifting from month to month in contracts can eat away returns during an unfavorable market situation. The note has amassed $6.8 million in its asset base and trades in paltry volume of about 1,000 shares a day. Expense ratio came in at 0.75%.


Bottom Line


The recent trends have been encouraging for both ETFs and investors should definitely focus on them for a positive play on commodities that are enjoying a huge run-up in their prices.


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US GAS FUND LP (UGA): ETF Research Reports
 
IPATH-PB COCOA (CHOC): ETF Research Reports
 
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