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The world’s best performing ETF of 2021 continues to be the Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (BDRY), which has returned over 11% in June and an astonishing 264% year-to-date.

This ETF tracks the price of shipping goods and materials – a cost that has risen dramatically this year given restrictions on port capacity, accelerating consumer demand and low availability of shipping containers. We have already added the ETF to our in-house pick list as of 16 June.

Data from Trackinsight, the first global ETF analysis platform, also reveals that energy and energy infrastructure was the highest-performing segment of the ETF markets in the first half of 2021.

Seventeen of the 20 top performing ETFs globally tracked the energy theme, returning between 50% to 87% to investors in just six months. The top 20 best-performing funds have added $1.1 billion in new assets since the start of the year with two funds, the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF and the KraneShares Global Carbon ETF contributing a combined $770 billion towards the total.

Despite much hype and strong inflows in 2021, clean energy and ESG-screened energy funds do not feature in the top 20 performers of 2021, which consists largely of traditional fossil-fuel derived energy funds.

Energy prices have been rising steadily, with everything from electricity to natural gas rhitting recent highs due to supply constraints and a breakdown of talks at OPEC to agree on oil production levels. Some analysts have predicted that oil could exceed $100 per barrel this year.

“The diversity and coverage of the ETF markets makes them an excellent lens through which investors can easily identify and participate in the main economic trends,” explained Annaelle Ubaldino, Head of ETF Research and Investment Advisory at TrackInsight. “We have seen new themes emerge on almost a monthly basis, but energy, especially traditional fossil-fuel based energy, has been consistently strong throughout the year so far. With energy prices surging, this theme may well have further to run.”

Fund LabelTheme
2021 Return to 30 June (USD)
2021 Flows to 30th June (USD)
Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETFShipping264.10%31,111,547
First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index Fund ETFEnergy87.14%97,894,752
Invesco Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production ETFEnergy82.34%56,256,067
Invesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETFEnergy82.34%146,157,024
Invesco DWA Energy Momentum ETFEnergy74.24%149,269,912
VanEck Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETFEnergy74.02%0
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETFEnergy66.79%340,767,740
InfraCap MLP ETFEnergy66.36%80,867,826
iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETFEnergy61.27%86,055,365
KBSTAR SYNTH-US Oil & Gas E&P(H) ETFEnergy60.79%-33,942,355


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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse has spent 25 years in journalism and marketing, including as a wealth management editor for the Financial Times group, covering capital markets and international private banking, and as an investment banking correspondent for Euromoney in Hong Kong. He was the founder editor of The Hedge Fund Journal.

Stuart has worked at CMC Markets, supporting the re-launch of its global financial spread betting and CFD trading platforms. He is also the author of two books on trading, published by Financial Times Pearson. Based in The Armchair Trader’s London office, Stuart continues to advise fund managers, private banks, family offices and other financial institutions.

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