As Investors Bet On Rising Natural Gas, ETF In Flux | ETF Trends

Gas prices are on the rise, which has led investors to pour money into the natural gas exchange traded fund (ETF), as well. This could have some consequences if it keeps up.

United States Natural Gas (UNG) has seen its assets balloon from $670 million in February to $3.7 billion. But the fund may have gotten too popular, says Ian Salisbury for The Wall Street Journal. Funds that hold commodities generally have limits on the number of shares they can issue to meet demand, and UNG may be approaching the limit.

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows that managers want to increase the available shares almost tenfold, but those requests often take weeks. What happens in the meantime? The shares could trade at prices higher than the underlying value of its holdings.

When contacted, John Hyland, portfolio manager and chief investment officer at U.S. Commodity Fund, said that this filing is a routine matter and they expect no unusual problems. According to the SEC’s website, this is the fifth time more shares for UNG have been filed.

ETFs typically create new fund shares whenever investors demand them, but commodity funds are a different breed with a unique structure.

Despite rising natural gas prices in recent days, the cost is still low at $4 per million BTU compared to last July, when they were $13. What’s going on?