Of 5 Top Commodities, Some Are Struggling

April 07, 2015

So far, 2015 isn't shaping up to be the year of the turnaround for commodities.


After four-straight years of declines, it would be natural to assume that perhaps commodities would catch a break in 2015. On the contrary; prices for most commodities continued to slide during the first quarter of the year, weighed down by a soaring dollar and slowing growth around the world.


In fact, of the five commodities on this top-performers list, only three actually registered a gain during the first quarter. The others were simply the "least worst" of the bunch.  


5. Lead -1.4%

Chart courtesy of Bloomberg


Lead is a prime example of one of these "less bad" performances. Its 1.4 percent loss during Q1 was enough to put it at No. 5 on the top-performers list. Like most base metals, China is the most important consumer when it comes to lead. It may require a change in China's economic fundamentals to spur lead out of this year's trading range.


There only two ETNs that offer focused exposure to lead; both are backed by Barclays Capital, and are very, very small in terms of assets. The $2.5 million iPath Pure Beta Lead ETN (LEDD | D-98) is designed to mitigate contango, so it invests in a single lead futures contract whose expiration is chosen specifically to combat the erosive impact contango has on returns. The ETN is down nearly 3 percent year-to-date.


The $818,000 iPath Dow Jones-UBS Lead Total Return ETN (LD | D-95), meanwhile, tracks front-month lead futures contracts, and is down 2.5 percent. 


Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com


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