NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- News that Greece had at last managed to secure its much-needed bailout funds is encouraging.
Unfortunately, investors, analysts, and market commentators will have no time to enjoy this development with sights already turning to the next big hurdle threatening the global macroeconomic picture: rising crude prices.
It is not uncommon to see oil prices increase as economic conditions improve and growth expectations rise. However in recent weeks, the ascension appears to have gathered steam as tensions continue to mount between Iran and the West, and China boosts lending to spur growth.
Heading into the start of the shortened trading week, prices managed to power to a nine-month high, punching through the closely-watched $100 level.
With consumers forced to pay more at the pump, less spending power can be used to spur and maintain our already-fragile market recovery. With wallets and confidence under pressure, consumers will likely turn to Washington for answers. It is not uncommon for lawmakers to intervene when energy prices begin to upend economic momentum. For instance, as riots in Libya sent crude prices surging last summer, President Obama announced that the nation would tap into its oil reserves in order to ease shortages and quell the price increase.
Revisiting such a plan today would likely be effective. In the end, however, it will likely only be a short-term fix. After seeing the detrimental impact geopolitical instabilities can have on an economy's recovery, politicians may find themselves considering more closely a plan to boost oil and energy production here at home.
For investors, such an epiphany could prove profitable.
Many leading energy ETFs are topped by domestic and international integrated energy titans like
. However, there are also a number of options investors can turn to into order to gain exposure to a wide range of producers based heavily or exclusively in North America. These companies will likely be the ones to see the biggest benefit in the event that politicians on both sides of the aisle warm up to homegrown energy.
By taking aim at indices dominated by smaller, independent producers such as the
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas Index ETF
can help investors keep their energy exposure close to home. The
Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income ETF
is another product to keep an eye on.
In addition to focusing solely on Canada-based energy producers, the fund offers an attractive dividend that will likely be appealing in the event that high energy prices upend the market's strength.
Already, investors have witnessed first-hand the benefits of using FCG and IEO to play the energy field. Over the past month period, both funds have managed to handedly outpace large-cap-dominated products like
the Energy Select Sector SPDR
iShares S&P Global Energy Sector Index Fund
The looming threat of rising energy prices will continue to dominate discussion and impact investor sentiment until some sort of resolution is resolved. While a band-aid-like solution like the one we saw last summer is likely, aggressive long term-minded investors may find funds like IEO and FCG to be attractive bets on a more-dramatic shift in this sector.
Whatever option is exercised, however, investors must use caution. As with any sector-specific ETF, these energy products should be viewed as small, niche holdings.
Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion Money Management did not own any equities mentioned.