Copper exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are designed to track the price of copper, an industrial metal with a wide variety of applications in manufacturing, electronics, and construction. Copper is considered a cyclical commodity whose price fluctuates in tandem with economic cycles, rising when the economy grows and falling when the economy slows. Because of its widespread use, some investors use copper and other commodities to diversify their portfolios. Because copper rises when inflation is accelerating, the metal also is seen as a hedge against rising prices.

The copper ETF universe is comprised of just 2 distinct ETFs, excluding inverse and leveraged ETFs. Both funds have very low assets under management (AUM), making them relatively illiquid compared to larger ETFs in other sectors. A special note to investors that the assets under management (AUM) in these funds are very small. As a result, they may be illiquid, incur higher trading costs and be harder to get in and out of than more liquid investments. This increases the risk involved in these funds, especially given that they are linked to volatile commodity prices. Despite posting a negative total return over the past 12 months, the best performing copper fund in the ETF family is the iPath Series B Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC). We examine both copper ETFs below. All numbers in this story are as of May 17, 2020. 

iPath Series B Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC)

  • Performance over 1-Year: -13.0%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.45%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 6,130
  • Assets Under Management: $11.6 million
  • Inception Date: January 17, 2018
  • Issuing Company: Barclays Capital

JJC is structured as an exchange-traded note (ETN), a type of unsecured debt security that tracks an underlying index of securities and trades like a stock. The index tracked by JJC is the Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return, an index tied to the Copper High Grade futures contract on the COMEX.

United States Copper Index Fund (CPER)

  • Performance over 1-Year: -13.5%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.80%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 15,887
  • Assets Under Management: $10.2 million
  • Inception Date: November 15, 2011
  • Issuing Company: USCF

CPER is structured as a commodity pool, a private investment structure that combines investor contributions in order to trade futures and commodities markets. These pools are used as a single entity to increase leverage in trading with the goal of maximizing profits. CPER seeks to track the SummerHaven Copper Index Total Return, which is designed to reflect the performance of the returns from a portfolio of copper futures contracts that are fully collateralized with 3-month U.S. Treasury Bills. Like JCC above, CPER invests in copper futures.