Investors often put diversification at the heart of portfolio construction. But effective diversification can sometimes require more than simply allocating across bond and share markets. To this end, many investors use commodities as a diversifier, as different and uncorrelated factors drive their performance to shares and bonds. The uncorrelated properties of commodities mean that this asset class may outperform when shares struggle.
Moreover, commodities naturally tend to perform when inflation rises, given their prevalence in inflation-measuring consumer price index baskets. This provides powerful diversification for investors and enhances the opportunity to improve risk-adjusted returns.
Which commodities are included in Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) (ASX: BCOM)?
Bloomberg Commodity Index Excess Return 3-Month Forward comprises a highly liquid, broad-based basket of commodities. Generally, commodities fall into six categories: energy (e.g. oil, gas and diesel), precious metals (e.g. gold, silver and platinum), industrial metals (e.g. copper, aluminium and zinc), livestock (e.g. live cattle and lean hogs), grains (e.g. wheat and soybeans) and softs (e.g. coffee, cotton and sugar).
Does Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) physically hold commodities?
Apart from precious metals like gold and silver, it is impractical for ETFs to invest directly in broad commodities. This is because of a range of obstacles, including perishability, storage, transport, standardisation, and secondary market liquidity. For example, an ETF that tried to provide exposure to physical oil would have to arrange storage for barrels. As this is not cost-effective or efficient and generally not feasible, BCOM will invest in commodities via exchange listed futures contracts instead.
What does “rolling” a futures contract mean, and why must it occur?
Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) (ASX: BCOM) tracks an index of commodity futures contracts. Futures contracts are derivative financial contracts that obligate parties to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined future date and price. At the expiry date, also known as the “delivery date”, the contracts are cash settled (or delivered, should investors purchase deliverable futures and exercise that option). Investors wanting long-term commodity exposure are therefore required to sell expiring futures contracts and buy new ones with expiry dates further into the future. This process is called “rolling”, as in rolling over.
BCOM tracks an index of commodity futures with at least three months until expiry. This provides some insulation from the possibility that futures physically settle.
What are contango and backwardation, and how can they impact BCOM’s performance?
Contango, to simplify, is where futures trade above the spot price of a commodity and fall in value (relative to the spot price) as they approach maturity. It is the normal situation for commodity futures. Backwardation is the opposite of contango. Backwardation is when the current price of an underlying asset is higher than prices trading in the futures market.
Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) (ASX: BCOM) will invest in commodities futures contracts that need to be rolled as they near expiry. Contango and backwardation may, positively or negatively impact the fund’s performance. As BCOM tracks an index of futures more than three months from expiry, the impact of backwardation and contango may be diluted relative to an index that holds futures until closer to expiry.
Why does BCOM use a swap rather than buy commodity futures directly?
The Bloomberg Commodity Index Excess Return 3 Month Forward, tracked by BCOM, is made of a basket of 25 eligible commodity futures. Trading these individual commodity futures contracts directly is operationally complex and costly, making swaps a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage the ETF.
Globally, broad commodities ETFs often use swaps of various kinds. This is not a structure unique to Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) (ASX: BCOM).
What is a swap?
Swaps are a service provided by banks, usually the major global investment banks like JP Morgan, UBS, and Goldman Sachs. Fund managers use them to follow indexes or access markets that they may find operationally burdensome or expensive to invest in directly.
For Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic), we use an unfunded swap to access commodity futures markets to track the index.
What are the risks of using a swap?
There are several risks to using a swap. A key one of which is credit risk via the swap counterparty. The Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) relies on a swap counterparty to achieve its index return; should our swap counterparty suffer credit stress or default, BCOM could suffer losses. These potential losses could include the 10% risk margin held by the counterparty.
As the swap is unfunded, 90% of its assets remain within the fund. This ultimately limits counterparty exposure.
Want more information on Global X Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic)?
For more information on Global X’s Bloomberg Commodities ETF (Synthetic) (ASX: BCOM), please download our extended frequently asked questions document here.
Global X Management Company LLC makes no representations, warranties, endorsements, or recommendations regarding any broker, advisor, or other financial intermediary, nor are we affiliated with these entities. Ask such entities or persons about any conflicts of interest that may influence such entities or persons to recommend Global X ETFs over another investment. By clicking the links above you are leaving GlobalXETFs.com and visiting a third-party website. Global X Management Company LLC is not responsible for the contents of third-party websites.
Investments may go up or down in value and you may lose some or all of the amount invested. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. Any advice provided by Global X Management (AUS) Limited (“Global X”) is general advice and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consult an independent investment adviser prior to making an investment in order to determine its suitability to your circumstances. This material may contain links to third party websites. Global X does not control and is not responsible for the information contained within third party websites. None of these links imply Global X’s support, endorsement or recommendation of any other company, product or service.
Global X Management (AUS) Limited ACN 150 433 828 AFSL No 466778
By subscribing to email updates you can expect thoroughly researched perspectives and market commentary on the trends shaping global markets. Topics may span disruptive tech, income strategies, and emerging economies.
Explore research, content or product pages within our site
Select Your Location
You Are Now Leaving the Australia Website of Global X ETFs
Clicking “Confirm” below will take you to a different website, intended for jurisdictions outside the US. Such links are provided as a convenience. Global X Management Company LLC disclaims responsibility for information, services or products found on the websites linked hereto.
The subsequent website(s) may be governed by different privacy policies, terms and conditions, or regulatory restrictions. Links to these websites are not intended for any person in any jurisdiction where – by reason of that person's nationality, residence or otherwise – the publication or availability of the website is prohibited. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply should not access these websites.