iShares Takes On JP Morgan Copper ETF

October 26, 2010

iShares to J.P. Morgan: How about this physical copper ETF!

iShares, the world’s biggest exchange-traded fund company, filed papers today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to market its own physical copper ETF, taking on J.P. Morgan in a space that until a few days ago was unoccupied by any money management firm.

The price of iShares Copper Trust shares will be based on settlement prices of the London Metals Exchange, the filing said. The copper will be stored in warehouses at locations in the United States or in other places if it has approval from the trustee and the sponsor, the paperwork said.

iShares’ filing follows a similar move by J.P. Morgan, which filed to offer a physical copper ETF last Friday. The sudden emergence of two competing funds shows how hot the copper market has become in recent years. It’s used widely in cable, wire and electrical products for the electrical and building industries. Demand from emerging markets, China in particular, has fueled sharp price increases.

The only existing exchange-traded product that’s even vaguely similar to the iShares Copper Trust is the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC), a debt instrument that tracks Comex copper futures. The three-year-old ETN has almost doubled in price in the past two years, according to data compiled by It had $128.1 million in assets as of yesterday’s close.

A number of copper ETFs that invest in companies mining or producing copper are also competing for investor dollars.

Among them are New York-based Global X’s Copper Miners ETF (NYSEArca: COPX) and First Trust’s ISE Global Copper Index Fund (NasdaqGM: CU). As of Monday’s close, COPX and CU had assets of $28.8 million and $37.5 million, respectively, according to data compiled by The two funds were launched earlier this year.

San Francisco-based iShares, a unit of the world’s biggest money management firm BlackRock Inc., didn’t specify a ticker symbol or expense ratio in its filing, which was dated Oct. 26.


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