The Best and Worst Industrial Metals ETFs of 2012

As 2012 draws to an end, investors are taking time to reflect on some of the best and worst performing commodities of the year. Though the year’s headlines have been dominated by energy and precious metals, there are a number of assets that have flown relatively under the radar. Industrial metals are among the most practical commodities on the market given their wide use in our everyday lives, but they rarely receive attention over something like gold or oil. Below, we outline the performances of some of the biggest industrial metals for 2012 [for more industrial metal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

Best: JJT Takes the Crown

Though the tin ETN has just over $6 million in assets, its 2012 performance speaks for itself as the fund has jumped a healthy 21% on the year. With global economies picking up this year, the demand and use for this commodity has risen, allowing JJT to profit. Unfortunately, even though this fund had a stellar performance this year, its low asset base and low trading volume makes it a candidate for being shuttered in the near future.

Best: LD Not Far Behind

LD, which offers exposure to lead futures, tacked on 13% in 2012, as it was also able to benefit from global economies gathering steam. Similar to JJT, LD has $4.9 million in assets and a trading volume that averages around 3,000 shares. Though the fund has been on the market since 2008, it still teeters on the edge of having its doors closed [see also Investing in Lead: The Definitive Guide].

Best: JJC Falls In The Middle

JJC tracks everyone’s favorite industrial metal: copper. This reddish-brown commodity is one of the most used in the industrial world and especially in the construction sector. JJC was able to jump 5.7% this year, dragging behind markets and some of its industrial counterparts. As the homebuilding industry continues to recover, this may be a good fund to watch in 2013.

Worst: JJU Loses Ground

Aluminum is another of the most popular industrial metals, but its performance on the year was relatively weak. JJU surrendered about 1.1% for 2012 as it has been unable to establish a clear trend. The fund had a massive rally in September and has also been surging as of November, but has still had trouble making up for lost ground as Q2 was anything but kind to this commodity [see also Marc Faber: Why Industrial Commodities Will Continue to Fail].

Worst: JJN Brings Up The Rear

JJN tracks nickel futures and is easily the smallest fund on this list. With just $1.4 million in assets it is surely in the most danger of being closed down of these five funds. And its performance this year certainly didn’t help; JJN is down 5.7% and had outflows of just over $1.3 million. Similar to aluminum, September and November have been very strong for the fund, but it has not been enough to overcome the blow it suffered earlier in the year.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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