NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The metals industry continues to be a wildly attractive region of the market for ETF sponsors. Gold, silver and other precious metals, in particular, are drawing huge crowds as investors seek out ways to protect against rampant market volatility.This has led fund companies to further increase the number of products available which track these shiny metals. Recently ETF Securities, a relative newcomer to the U.S. ETF industry, launched ETFS Physical Precious Metals Basket Shares ( GLTR): the first fund aimed at providing investors access to a physical combination of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Though still new to the ETF universe, I predict that this fund will quickly become a force to be reckoned with among precious metals ETFs. Given the popularity of precious metals funds, it is not surprising that companies are looking to expand the selection of base metal ETFs as well. Though less glitzy than gold and silver, base metals such as copper, aluminum, and tin are used extensively across a number of industries, therefore making them essential components for economic growth. They appeal to bullish investors confident that the global economy is in the midst of a recovery. In recent days, JPMorgan ( JPM) filed paperwork to launch the JPMorgan Physical Copper Shares. Like physically backed gold and silver funds such as iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) and iShares Silver Trust ( PALL), this fund will track the performance of a physical stockpile of copper. Market Vectors has also hopped onto the metals bandwagon, filing paperwork for the Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF which will trade under the symbol, REMX. This is slated to be the first U.S. listed ETF aimed at tracking the performance of the popular rare earth elements. These new products will join an already large body of ETFs designed to track the performance of this class of metals. The PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund ( DBB) provides investors with equal weighted access to a basket of aluminum, copper and zinc futures contracts. A fund such as the SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF ( XME) is another option for investors looking for a broad play on the metals. This fund tracks a collection of companies responsible for unearthing all types of metals. While this type of broad based product may be attractive to conservative investors looking for general exposure to the base metals industry, aggressive investors may find more promise in funds which track the performance of these metals individually.
Prior to the news of JPMorgan's foray into the copper markets, the red metal has been a particularly popular focus for ETF issuers. Using funds currently available, investors can play this red metal from a number of different angles. The iPath Dow Jones UBS Copper Subindex ETN ( JJC) is designed to track the performance of futures contracts while the Global X Copper Miners ETF ( COPX) follows a basket of companies hailing from the industry. Investing in an individual metal such as copper can be exciting. However it is important to remember that, given the volatile nature of the current economic recovery, these funds can be particularly susceptible to market swings. I do not foresee interest in metals waning any time soon. Rather I expect demand for these industry-linked metals to further increase as the economy continues to recover. In order to take advantage of their popularity, fund companies will likely come to market with more new products aimed at tracking this region of the market. Investors should keep an eye out for new funds down the road. -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
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