What’s it: A commodity index tracks the price performance of a selected basket of commodities. Index issuers assign weights to selected commodities, the percentages of which vary according to the respective methodology. Some use varying weights, and some use average weights.
Why is the commodity index important
The commodity index is an alternative and a way to diversify the portfolio. That makes it easier for investors to invest in commodities without having to buy them physically.
Because of the complexity of trading physical commodities, investors usually focus on index futures of the commodity. They can then invest in commodities through these indices and earn a profit when the underlying commodity price rises.
Factors affecting the commodity index
The index value fluctuates, adjusting to the price movements of the underlying commodity. Many factors influence prices, including supply and demand, weather conditions, the US dollar, world events, weather conditions, or even geopolitics.
The weighting method also affects the index movement. Some indices may have uniform weights between commodities. Others may assign a higher percentage of weight to specific commodities.
Say, the index has a higher weight on energy commodities. Its movements will closely follow energy commodity prices. Long story short, the difference in weighting also makes the performance between commodity indices, not uniform, even though they use the same components.
Another factor is the reference price used. It also affects the index. Commodity trading involves a great deal of shipping. They differ in the destination or origin of delivery. For example, palm oil prices for shipments from Malaysia will differ from those for shipments from Indonesia. Even though the destination is the same, say Rotterdam in the Netherlands, differences such as tariffs and taxes make the two different prices.
Finally, the delivery time of the futures contract also affects the price. The next month’s shipments will have a different price than shipments for the next two or three months.
Examples of a commodity index
The following is examples of a commodity price index on the global market:
- S&P GSCI
- Bloomberg Commodity Index (BCOM)
- Thomson Reuters Equal Weight Commodity Index (CCI)
- Credit Suisse Commodity Benchmark Index (CSCB)
- Refinitiv Equal Weight Commodity Index
- Refinitiv/CoreCommodity CRB Index
- Rogers International Commodity Index
- SummerHaven Dynamic Commodity Index
One way to get exposure to a commodity in a portfolio is to invest in a commodity ETF. It tracks a wide range of commodities, including energy, base metals, precious metals, and agricultural goods. They are similar to mutual funds but are listed on an exchange and traded just like common stocks. Here are the Top-20 commodity ETFs by total assets:
|ETF Name||Total Assets (000)|
|Invesco Optimum Yield Diversified Commodity Strategy No K-1 ETF||$2,554.17|
|Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund||$1,063.47|
|iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust||$747.09|
|iPath Dow Jones-UBS Commodity ETN||$497.59|
|Aberdeen Standard Bloomberg All Commodity Strategy K-1 Free ETF||$299.11|
|iShares Commodities Select Strategy ETF||$211.56|
|First Trust Global Tactical Commodity Strategy Fund||$201.81|
|United States Commodity Index Fund||$108.58|
|RICI-Total Return ETN||$106.03|
|WisdomTree Continuous Commodity Index Fund||$96.43|