NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Once seemingly impervious to weakness, the commodities space has recently been cast under an unsettling shroud of uncertainty, leading many investors to question the long-term strength and attraction of hard assets.
Although in the near term, those looking for direct access to energy, minerals, and individual agricultural products may face an uphill climb, there are a number of ways ETF investors can actually benefit from the recent upheaval in commodities. Below are a handful of funds that look set to benefit as resource prices remain subdued.
SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT)
Throughout the final months of 2010 and first quarter of 2011, cotton prices stuck to a steep upward path, as evidenced by the dramatic ascension witnessed from the futures-tracking iPath Dow Jones UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return ETN (BAL).While attractive for those with direct access to cotton, these rising costs have been a major hurdle for apparel companies, threatening to wipe away profits and force price increases onto vulnerable consumers. Since April, however, cotton prices have tumbled. Over the most recent 90-day period, BAL has retreated over 20%. As a result of this decline, some weight as been lifted off of retailers, providing them with some refreshing room to move higher. The prospect for the retail industry has been further strengthened as gas prices have taken a hit. Relief at the pump bodes well for consumer discretionary spending power. XRT provides investors with access to a wide range of companies across various corners of the retail industry. Apparel retail, however, commands the lion's share of the index, accounting for nearly a third of its assets. Since mid-June, shares of this fund have been on a rebound, powering within reach of previous 2011 highs. PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage Portfolio (PBJ)/ PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment Portfolio (PEJ) Over the past year, the restaurant industry has managed to consistently outpace the broader markets as consumers have become increasingly willing to treat themselves to small luxuries. Although PBJ's 30% gains during this timeframe has been impressive, there is a strong chance that as commodity prices remain tempered this fund will have further to run.