There is no shortage of mining and materials-related ETFs that have posted double-digit gains over the past month. Most are tied to gold and silver, ensuring ample press coverage, but one of the stars of the mining ETF group has nothing to do with gold or silver. Quiet as it has been kept, the Global X Uranium ETF (NYSEArca: URA) is up 17% in the past month.
URA debuted in November 2010 and got off to a fast start, but was derailed in the first quarter of 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, at the time one of the world’s largest consumers of nuclear power. URA predictably plunged on that news and headlines that other countries were reassessing their nuclear power programs. [Nuclear ETFs and the Japan Disaster]
Historically cheap uranium prices and news that emerging markets like China, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe would still continue their nuclear programs did little to help URA. After a brutal 2011, URA lost nearly 19% last year and things got so bad earlier this year that Global X had to reverse split the ETF on a 1-for-3 basis in May.
Fast-forward to July 2013 and things are looking up for URA. The ETF surged on July 22 on speculation that victory by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in elections that decided control of Japan’s upper house parliament could spark increased nuclear power use in Japan. Those headlines sent shares of USEC (NYSE: USU), URA’s fourth-largest holding, soaring and lead to rumors of intense short-covering, according to Bloomberg.
On Monday, USEC soared 51% after it said in regulatory filing that it received additional funding of $29.9 million for its American Centrifuge enrichment project from the U.S. Energy Department. That helped URA gain 3.7% on volume that was nearly double the daily average, a move that took the ETF above its 200-day moving average for the first time since February.