The rebound in commodities this year has been surprising. After falling to jaw-dropping depths in January, the asset class roared back in the last few months.
For the first time in five years, commodities are broadly outperforming equities. That said, as is usually the case, the dispersion of returns between the various commodities is great.
Silver Leads, NatGas Lags
In the ETF world, for example, the top-performing nonleveraged/noninverse commodities fund, the ETFS Physical Silver Shares (SIVR | A-100), is up 24.9% year-to-date, while the worst-performer, the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG | B-94), is down 22.8%.
SIVR, the cheapest silver ETF on the market, benefited from the surge in the gray metal. Like gold, silver rallied this year amid concerns about the economy, low-to-negative interest rates and the depreciation of the U.S. dollar.
On the flip side, UNG suffered due to plunging natural gas prices, which hit a 17-year low in March. Record production and a mild winter hit the heating fuel from both the supply and demand side.
YTD Returns For SIVR, UNG
Tin And Nickel Quietly Rally
Following closely behind SIVR and the other silver ETFs is the iPath Bloomberg Tin Subindex Total Return ETN (JJT | F-96), with a gain of 22.2%.
One of the lesser-known metals, tin doesn't garner many headlines, even when it's rising notably. JJT is the only product that tracks tin futures, but it has paltry assets under management—about $2 million.
After tin, the second-best-performing base metal fund is the iPath Pure Beta Nickel ETN (NINI | D-99), up 6.4% so far this year, but it too has seen little in the way of interest or assets.
YTD Returns For JJT, NINI