The United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: UNG) has not been anything to write home about this year. Even with the nightly news telling America about frigid temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast on a regular basis, UNG is lower by 3.2% over the past month.
Natural gas equities are a different story. The ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index, the underlying benchmark for well-known exchange traded funds such as the First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index Fund (NYSEArca: FCG) and the Direxion Daily Natural Gas Related Bull 3X (NYSEArca: GASL), has been soaring as natural gas futures slide. [Nat Gas ETFs Diverge]
Over the past month, FCG is up 13.2%. GASL, which attempts to deliver three times daily performance of theISE-Revere Natural Gas Index, is up more than 35% over the same period. The temerity of FCG’s and GASL’s recent gains will be put to the earnings test this week when Talisman Energy (NYSE: TLM), almost 7% of the index’s weight, delivers fourth-quarter results on Thursday.
Talisman’s and other looming earnings reports for FCG and GASL come with the ETFs residing at interesting junctures. FCG, and subsequently GASL, has a penchant for over-shooting UNG’s moves in either direction. For example, UNG fell 28.6% last year, but FCG was nearly 50% worse and almost five times as bad as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE).
GASL dropped 5.7% Tuesday, but through Monday, the ETF was up 43% this month, making it the top performer by a wide margin among Direxion’s bullish leveraged funds. However, GASL is a reminder that only traders that can handle risk and stomach volatility should embrace leveraged ETFs. [A Warmer View of Leveraged ETFs]