The iShares Transportation Average ETF (NYSEArca: IYT) and the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (NYSEArca: XTN) have traded almost flat this year, but some market observers believe transportation could play a pivotal role in driving broader benchmarks higher this year.

IYT tracks the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJT). Transportation stocks were expected to benefit from lower oil prices and while that has been the case for airline stocks, other industry groups represented in IYT, including railroads, have lagged broader equity benchmarks. XTN is an equal-weight spin on the transportation sector.

“The iShares Transports IYT ETF, which holds 20 top transportation stocks such as UPS and FedEx, has been largely shut out of gains during the past year. It has fallen around half a percent over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 is up nearly 16 percent over the same period,” reports CNBC.

Going forward, the allure of infrastructure investing, which investors can easily engage in via exchange traded funds, could and should rise as governments around the world finally commit the capital necessary to upgraded dated and dangerous bridges, pipelines and roads. In the near-term, however, transportation investments could remain challenged.

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