Traders Quick to Reap Profits in Oil ETFs

The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) has climbed 14.4% this month, but that has not been enough to keep some investors around.

USO is bleeding assets despite rising to the highest levels of the year. From April 1 through April 28, USO lost $564.6 million in assets, putting the fund on pace for its biggest monthly outflows since April 201, reports Moming Zhou for Bloomberg.

Due to the sudden interest in futures-backed oil ETFs, observers argue that retail speculators have been a major factor in supporting the energy markets. Retail investor flows into oil ETFs have been the “key force pushing commodity markets higher,” Goldman Sachs commodity research team said in a note. [ETFs Dominate Oil Futures Market]

Investors have departed USO as volatility has ebbed. “The CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index, which measures oil price fluctuations using options of the U.S. Oil Fund, slipped to 36.6 on April 24, the lowest since December,” according to Bloomberg.

April is historically one of the strongest months for crude oil with the commodity posting an average gain of 2.5% in the fourth month of the year.

Through April 23, annualized 90-day volatility for the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index, which serves as the underlying benchmark for the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (NYSEArca: OIL), is at its highest levels since the late stages of the global financial crisis in early 2009, according to S&P Dow Jones Indexology. [Volatility Chases Investors From Oil ETFs]