When commodity exchange traded funds (ETFs) were on a bull run this summer, London-based ETF Securities was right there with its line of funds aimed squarely at the sector.

The provider, which actually runs products known as exchange traded commodities (ETCs), is the first to launch funds targeted at gold and oil. While oil has stepped sharply back off its July record highs, gold still manages to draw investor interest as a safe-haven instrument.

While they might share somewhat similar names and do have some similarities, one key difference is that ETCs are securities rather than funds. Another is that ETCs have no maturity date.

Exchange traded notes (ETNs) are another animal altogether, backed by the credit of the issuer. There have been some issues with ETNs in recent weeks, as a number of financial institutions have either gone bankrupt or have been taken over my the government.

One quality they all share without fail is their ability to trade all day on an exchange like a stock would, hence the names.

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