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Tesla Fires Weigh on Lithium ETF


Shares of Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA), the once high-flying electric car maker, have fallen on hard times. To be more precise, the stock has entered bear market territory in a big way, plunging 30% in just the past month.

Tesla’s decline, largely due to a string of bad news related to fires in its cars, has weighed on some exchange traded funds that once held large allocations to the stock. For example, the First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund (QCLN) is down 2.2% in the past month while the Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF (GEX) is off 2.7%. GEX and QCLN still rank among the best non-leveraged ETFs this year. [Tesla is a Reminder of ETFs' Advantages]

Tesla’s woes have plagued another ETF and it is one that does not even hold shares of the stock. The Global X Lithium ETF (LIT) has slid 6.7% in the past month as the Tesla fires have stoked speculation regarding the safety of lithium batteries.

Interestingly, LIT’s largest holding, FMC (FMC), which accounts for almost 21% of the ETF’s weight, is down just 2% in the past month. Rockwood Holdings (ROC), LIT’s second-largest holding at a weight of 17.2%, has actually traded higher in the past month. [Lithium ETF Anticipates Electric Car Movement]

To be fair, Tesla is not the only big-name company that has struggled with lithium battery issues. Earlier this year, Dow component Boeing (BA) was forced to ground the 787 Dreamliner due to spontaneous fires in the batteries the company used in the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter , reports Paul Ausick for 24/7 Wall Street. 

The 24/7 Wall Street article also notes General Motors (GM) “was forced to recall its all-electric Chevy Volt after three of the vehicles caught fire days after being involved in an accident” and Apple (AAPL) and Dell (DELL) have also had their issues with lithium-ion batteries in recent years.

Musk, who for most of this year has had a favorable impact on several ETFs, is predictably defending his company. [November Rain for Musk ETFs]

In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Musk said the fires in Tesla cars are extreme cases and that he does not expect a government recall.

Vindication for Tesla could be good news for LIT, which could use some. The ETF resides 2% below its 200-day moving average and 4.6% below its 50-day line.

Global X Lithium ETF