ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) that target energy stocks and commodities topped the performance charts in the first quarter as escalating tensions in the Middle East pushed oil prices higher.

Commodity ETFs added to their quarterly gains Thursday as corn and grains rallied in the agriculture sector. [Grain, Corn ETFs Pop After Planting Report.]

The $6.2 billion PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (NYSEArca: DBC) climbed nearly 2% in afternoon trading Thursday.

In the energy sector, PowerShares S&P SmallCap Energy Portfolio (NasdaqGM: PSCE) and SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEArca: XOP) were both up more than 20% for the three months ended March 30. Thursday is the final trading session of the first quarter.

Meanwhile, oil and silver ETFs stood out in the commodities sector. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) is on track for a gain of over 20% for the quarter. [Silver ETFs Outshine Gold.]

In U.S. stocks, SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) is on pace for a roughly 6% rise in the first quarter.

Conversely, Global X Uranium ETF (NYSEArca: URA) is among the worst performers and has been hit hard by Japan’s nuclear disaster. [Uranium ETF Lower After Bounce.]

Exchange-traded products that profit from rising market volatility also lost ground in the first quarter. The $1.4 billion iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) is set for a loss of more than 20%. After a spike earlier this month that coincided with a sell-off in equity markets, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has dropped back down, signaling investors are growing more complacent.

Oil prices rallied Thursday and U.S. Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) jumped over 2% with the ETF set to close the quarter with momentum near its highs.

For full disclosure, Tom Lydon’s clients own SLV and SPY.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, 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.