Best Performing ETFs Of The Year

October 06, 2021

After equity markets saw strong gains through the first half of the year, the market took a pause in the third quarter. Large cap equities, as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY)  were able to eke out a slight gain of 0.6% for the quarter. Small cap equities, as represented by the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) fared worse, down by 4.3% during the quarter.

Growth retained a slight advantage over value, with the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) outperforming the iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) by 2% during the third quarter.  

After slumping through the first two months of the quarter, the energy sector surged in mid to late September, keeping energy names atop the best performers list for yet another quarter. Energy and natural gas funds make up 15 of the top 20 best-performing ETFs for the year.

Best-Performing ETFs Of 2021 (Ex. Leveraged/Inverse)

Ticker Fund YTD Return
BDRY Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF 367.66%
UNG United States Natural Gas Fund LP 119.13%
GAZ iPath Series B Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN 112.28%
FCG First Trust Natural Gas ETF 92.78%
UNL United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund LP 91.17%
GRN iPath Series B Carbon ETN 89.41%
PXE Invesco Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production ETF 88.46%
JJT iPath Series B Bloomberg Tin Subindex Total Return ETN 87.60%
FRAK VanEck Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF 86.26%
URNM North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF 79.14%
PXI Invesco DWA Energy Momentum ETF 76.41%
JJE iPath Series B Bloomberg Energy Subindex Total Return ETN 75.24%
PSCE Invesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETF 74.01%
RJN Elements Rogers International Commodity Index-Energy TR ETN 68.10%
XOP SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF 67.35%
KRBN KraneShares Global Carbon ETF 66.83%
FTXN First Trust Nasdaq Oil & Gas ETF 65.41%
IEO iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF 65.07%
DBO Invesco DB Oil Fund 62.75%
OIL iPath Pure Beta Crude Oil ETN 61.78%

Data measures total returns for the year-to-date period through Sept. 30, 2021.

 

Natural Gas Booms
Natural gas prices in the U.S. have more than doubled since this time last year. Demand for the fuel has accelerated as economies around the world recover from the pandemic. The supply side is also squeezed, with inventories depleted after Hurricane Ida negatively impacted production.

Natural gas ETPs make up four of the top 20 names. The United States Natural Gas Fund LP (UNG) is the second-best-performing ETF of the year, gaining 119%. The iPath Series B Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN (GAZ) has also notched triple digit gains, up 112% for the year.

More broad-based energy funds also made the list. The Invesco Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production ETF (PXE) focuses on companies involved in the exploration and production of oil and gas. The fund is up 88% for the year.

Several carbon credit funds also made the list. The iPath Series B Carbon ETN (GRN) and the KraneShares Global Carbon ETF (KRBN) invest in the global carbon credit market and were up 89% and 67%, respectively.

Reddit Fuels Uranium Surge

A new addition to the best-performers list is the North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF (URNM). This ETF tracks a market-cap-weighted index of global companies in the uranium industry and has gained nearly 80% for the year.

The ETF went nuclear in August and early September after becoming the latest target for Reddit traders. However, there is also rising demand for the metal due to growing support for nuclear energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

Shipping Stays On Top
Remaining at the top of the list once again is the Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (BDRY). This fund tracks an index of long-only exposure of dry bulk freight futures contracts and is up 368% through the end of the third quarter.

This fund’s performance has been driven by supply chain inefficiencies that have caused the cost of ocean freight to increase at an exponential rate. Container freight rates are up by over 350% from this time last year, according to data from the Drewry World Container Index.

Contact Jessica Ferringer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter

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