Well-rounded portfolios should have some variety. So what are some ways exchange traded funds (ETFs) can help?

While investors should always meticulously research a stock, ETFs do allow an individual to hedge his or her market position and give some balance to a portfolio, remarks Bradley Johnson for Personal Financing and Investing. In our strategy, we wait for signs of potential long-term uptrends in ETFs and utilize a 200-day moving average.

Johnson provides some areas that may help potential investors create a balanced portfolio. As with any holding, always do your homework and be sure the trend is there before you jump in:

Gold. Gold has traditionally been a hedge against inflation, and most countries have been pumping money into their financial systems, which many see as a precursor for inflation.

  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD): down 1.4% year-to-date

ETF GLD performance

Treasury Inflation Protected Securites. Just as the name entails, this type of ETF is an inflation hedge. The treasuries are based on the government’s calculation of the consumer price index (CPI), and they tend to not have large or random fluctuations. But the inflation-based principle will be taxed.

  • iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (TIP): up 2.5% year-to-date

ETF TIP performance

Long-Term Treasuries. These are not positively correlated with inflation, but are correlated with market pessimism. People who are worried about the markets flee to the relative safety of treasuries.

  • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treas Bond (TLT): down 13.4% year-to-date

ETF TLT performance

Oil. It may move with inflation, but the driving factor is based on energy demand. When an economy slows, production will slow down, and eventually this should drive up prices. In the short term, oil prices may still be low.

  • United States Oil (USO): down 8.7% year-to-date

ETF USO performance

Agriculture. This area allows an investor to be included in a sector that will still see some signs of life even in a downturn. It comes down to the fact that people still need consume.

  • PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA): down 5.3% year-to-date

ETF DBA performance

Max Chen contributed to this article.

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.