ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Now that President Barack Obama has outlined his plan to increase fuel efficiency in vehicles, clean up the environment and reduce America’s dependence on oil, what exchange traded funds (ETFs) might be affected?As of Tuesday, Obama announced the first-ever emissions limit plan for vehicles, to be implemented on a national level. Ken Thomas and Phillip Elliot for the Associated Press report that the plan will require emissions limits for vehicles, as well as require an overall or industry average fuel efficiency standard at 35.5 miles per gallon.

The plan does help tackle the feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards. Automakers get one single standard and the states get their emission standards honored. New vehicles would be 30% cleaner and more fuel-efficient by the end of the program.

Which ETFs have the potential to benefit from this plan, and which ETFs might be on the losing side? (But remember: these aren’t predictions, and we’re still watching the trend lines to see what actually transpires once this plan is fully in effect in 2016).

On the Potentially Negative Side…

If we reduce our dependence on oil and don’t need as much of it to keep our cars operating, that may naturally create less demand and possibly keep prices down.

  • United States Oil (USO): down 1.2% year-to-date

The same goes for gas – more fuel efficiency, fewer fill-ups, less gas needed. Will it equate to lower prices?

  • United States Gasoline (UGA): up 52.2% year-to-date

On the Potentially Positive Side…

Overall, the environment should be a winner with this plan. Cleaner air, fewer emissions and some kind of help toward solving the problem of global warming. For that reason, environmentally focused ETFs could reap the rewards, as well, as the movement toward cleaner energy and conservation gathers interest.

  • PowerShares Wilderhill Clean Energy (PBW): up 5.6% year-to-date

Consumers could win, too. While these cars could cost up to $1,300 more, greater fuel efficiency could ultimately translate into more money in their pockets over time. That could mean more disposable income and greater spending on discretionary items.

  • Vanguard Consumer Discretionary (VCR): up 11.2% year-to-date

Platinum could benefit, too. After all, it’s a primary ingredient in catalytic converters, which are devices designed to reduce the toxicity of emissions. Of course, while the catalytic converter will still be a component of the new cars, there’s no way to clean carbon dioxide out of a car’s exhaust. The only way to reduce that is to reduce the amount of fuel burned, says Bay News 9.

  • E-TRACS UBS Long Platinum ETN (PTM): up 17.8% year-to-date

The U.S. auto industry could benefit from this new push, too, if they create the right kind of vehicles in a cost-effective way.

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.