Oil exchange traded funds rose Thursday as crude futures climbed above $100 a barrel at one point, but Citigroup (NYSE: C) analysts say water could be the next big story in commodities markets.

Citi strategists believe that water will become the most important physical commodity. Investors can play the growing demand for water with water companies and related ETFs.

In a note Thursday, the bank’s strategists urged investors to play the expanding global urbanization with water companies since demand for the commodity will rise as global populations become more densely packed and experience better standards of living, reports Tracy Alloway for Financial Times. [Diving into the Water ETFs.]

“I expect to see a globally integrated market for fresh water within 25 to 30 years,” Citi strategist Willem Buiter said, according to the FT report. “Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.”

Water-related ETFs include:

  • PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio (NYSEArca: PHO)
  • PowerShares Global Water Portfolio ETF (NYSEArca: PIO)
  • Guggenheim S&P Global Water Index (NYSEArca: CGW)
  • First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (NYSEArca: FIW)

For more information on water, visit our water category.

PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio

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. Mr. Lydon serves as an independent trustee of certain mutual funds and ETFs that are managed by Guggenheim Investments; however, any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Mr. Lydon and not those of Guggenheim Funds, Guggenheim Investments, Guggenheim Specialized Products, LLC or any of their affiliates. 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.