ETF Talk: Shiny Gold, Nutritious Wheat, Tasty Corn
The commodity boom certainly is enticing aggressive investors. In last week's ETF Talk, we discussed commodity exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that tracked an individual commodity, such as gold, silver or oil. These ETFs in recent months have outperformed the market to generate positive returns.
This week, I am looking at commodity funds that are diversified and that invest in more than one commodity. Two examples of such diversified commodity funds are offered by the PowerShares ETF fund family. Those funds are PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA) and PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC).
PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA) tracks the performance of the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index - Optimum Yield Agriculture Excess Return. That index is intended to mirror the performance of the agricultural sector. DBA holds future contracts in corn, wheat, soy beans and sugar -- some of the most liquid and heavily traded agricultural commodities.
With the developing world's growing demand for more and more food, it's easy to see why agricultural commodities will continue to prove profitable for investors in the years ahead. The question is how much higher commodity funds will rise, in light of their record-setting returns. The fund rose 33.83% during 2007, following its launch on January 5, 2007.
PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC) seeks to reflect the performance of the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity index. The index uses futures contracts on six heavily traded physical commodities: crude oil, heating oil, gold, aluminum, corn and wheat. The fund's 2007 return hit 31.66% during 2007. DBC's share price is up 16.95% since its inception on February 3, 2006. As you can see from the following chart, DBC remains on an upward trajectory.
Another positive sign, indicated in the charts above, is that the volume of both ETFs is strong and growing. An ETF that tops 1 million shares a day is commanding a respectable amount of interest. Both ETFs meet that mark. When the stock market soared on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, the volume reached a healthy 3,379,423 shares for DBA and 1,474,089 for DBC.
My word of warning is that commodity funds have zoomed so much it stands to reason that a cautious investor will wonder when the ascent will end. The commodity rally may be too extended for many investors to climb aboard at the current lofty price levels but other investors seem to have a high enough tolerance for risk to keep these ETFs going up -- at least so far.
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