Rare Earth Metals ETF Outperforms in Materials Space

The materials sector is on a hot streak as the global economy strengthens, with a sub-sector-specific exchange traded fund that tracks rare earth metal producers among the standouts in the space.

The VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEArca: REMX) has increased 68.8% over the past year, compared to the broader S&P 500 Materials Sector Index’s 34.1% return. REMX was also among the best performers Monday, adding another 2.4%

Among the best rare earths mining companies Monday, Lynas Corp (ASX: LYC) surged 14.1%. The Australian miner makes up 5.4% of REMX’s underlying holdings.

REMX tries to reflect the performance of the MVIS Global Rare Earth/Strategic Metals Index, which is comprised of global companies involved in producing refining and recycling rare earth and strategic metals and minerals.

The ETF includes global miners with a heavy 35.5% focus on Chinese firms, along with 27.9% Australia, 10.8% Canada, 8.8% Japan, 5.6% South Africa, 4.8% U.S., 3.5% France and 3.1% Brazil.

Rare earth and strategic metals are industrial-grade metals usually extracted as by-products in operations focused on precious metals and base metals. In contrast to base metals, rare earths have more specialized uses and are often more difficult to extract. About 49 elements in the periodic table are considered rare earth or strategic metals.