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Commodity ETFs to Fight Inflation


As the Federal Reserve extends its money printing spree to stimulate the economy, the extra cash sloshing around could eventually stoke inflation. However, investors can use commodity ETFs to help protect themselves against inflation and rising prices.

Inflation can diminish or erase annual returns, but Jared Cummans for Commodity HQ points out that there are commodity ETFs that may help an investor keep up with the effects of quantitative easing.

Gold and related ETFs, like the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) , have been one of the go-to assets to help maintain an investor’s purchasing power. As the U.S. dollar depreciates, the precious metal will benefit as a store of wealth. However, it should be noted that gold doesn’t always move higher with inflation.

Silver, like gold, should also do well for the similar reasons, but it is slightly more volatile as the metal also has greater industrial demand. Cummans suggests the ProShares Ultra Silver ETF (AGQ) , which offers a 200% exposure to silver price movements. This leveraged ETF is better suited as a short-term play since it rebalances daily and its long-term performance may not reflect the price movement in the underlying assets. The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is among the unleveraged ETFs for the metal. [QE3: Better for Gold ETFs than the Economy?]

United States Oil Fund (USO) could also reflect the rising oil prices as a result of further quantitative easing. USO follows front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures. [Oil, Agriculture ETFs Tapped for Big Commodities Trade]

The Market Vectors-Agribusiness ETF (MOO) tracks businesses that harvest and distribute agriculture products. As commodity prices rise, agribusiness companies could experience higher revenues. [High Corn Prices Fuel Agribusiness ETFs]

While not an obvious pick, timber assets have kept up and even outperformed during periods of rising inflation, Cummans notes. For instance, since the start of the 20th century, timber has outperformed the S&P 500 and increased 15% each year since 1987. The S&P Global Timber & Forestry Index Fund (WOOD) provides exposure to companies engaged in the ownership, management or upstream supply of forests and timberlands.

For more information on commodities, visit our commodity ETFs category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own GLD.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.