The United States is chilling out – literally. The cold snap is pushing natural gas demand up, which has some exchange traded fund (ETF) investors wondering if this presents an opportunity in funds focused on the fuel.
A higher-than-expected supply of natural gas could get used up as downright Arctic weather settles over much of the United States. Could this be the boost that United States Natural Gas (NYSEArca: UNG) needs? [Will the commodity ETFS make a comeback?]
Don Dion for The Street explains that regulators are seeking to rein in “excess speculation” with futures position limits, which could have an impact on UNG. The regulations haven’t yet fully materialized, but UNG’s managers restructured the fund last summer in anticipation. [Natural gas ETF turns to swaps.]
Jeffry Harris, chief economist at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), claimed that he could find a connection between speculation and high energy prices, although United States Commodity Funds Chief Investment Officer John Hyland vigorously defended the funds, calling those claims ‘self-serving statistical gibberish.” [CFTC and commodity ETF provider face off.]
As he prepares to return to academia, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler – who believes that the American public should be protected from excessive speculation – will be able to appoint Harris’ successor. [The commodity regulators are making forward progress.]
For the time being, UNG and other commodity-focused ETFs have come up with ways to get around the scrutiny by restructuring the ETFs while still ensuring the funds stick close to their goals.
Investors skittish about the upcoming regulations may want to examine commodity ETFs that hold equities, such as the First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas (NYSEArca: FCG), which doesn’t hold futures or swaps. FCG is up 15.4% in the last month, while UNG is up 23.2% in the last month.
For more stories about natural gas, visit our natural gas category.
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.