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The UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Total Return Index (ticker: CMCITR), a modern commodity index designed to reduce the potential negative effects of contango, returned 3.59 percent during July and 6.69 percent year-to-date (YTD), outpacing the two most popular traditional commodity benchmarks: the Dow Jones UBS Commodity Index (DJUBSTR, up 2.96 percent in July and 0.31 percent YTD) and the S&P GSCI Total Return Index (SPGSCITR, up 2.44 percent in July, 5.21 percent YTD). Contango, as mentioned above, refers to an upward sloping futures curve, which is a major concern for commodity investors.
CMCITR is diversified across 27 commodity constituents and up to five maturities. Its constant maturity approach is designed to minimize investment exposure to the front end of the futures curve, and by diversifying exposure across the forward futures curve, the index seeks to mitigate the impact of contango, a major concern for commodity investors.
First published in January 2007, CMCITR is the underlying index of the Van Eck CM Commodity Index Fund (tickers: CMCAX, COMIX, CMCYX), a passively-managed mutual fund launched at yearend 2010. “As we look back on the commodity markets during a volatile first half of 2011 and a tumultuous start to the second half of the year, we remain convinced of the benefits of the constant maturity approach,” said Kristen Capuano, Marketing Director for Van Eck Funds. “The performance history of numerous commodity funds has shown that whether a manager is long-only or long/short, it is difficult to consistently predict the shape of futures curves. Further, traditional indexes continue to suffer from negative roll yield during periods of contango, which can significantly reduce performance.”
Contango refers to an upward-sloping futures curve. When a curve is in contango, the futures price is greater than the spot price. As a result, the price of a futures contract is greater than the price of an expiring contract. When this occurs, investors will incur an added cost each time a contract expires and it is rolled over and replaced it with another contract.