The Best and Worst Industrial Metals ETFs of 2012

As 2012 draws to an end, investors are taking time to reflect on some of the best and worst performing commodities of the year. Though the year’s headlines have been dominated by energy and precious metals, there are a number of assets that have flown relatively under the radar. Industrial metals are among the most practical commodities on the market given their wide use in our everyday lives, but they rarely receive attention over something like gold or oil. Below, we outline the performances of some of the biggest industrial metals for 2012 [for more industrial metal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

Best: iPath DJ-UBS Tin Subindex Total Return SM (NYSEARCA:JJT) Takes the Crown

Though the tin ETN has just over $6 million in assets, its 2012 performance speaks for itself as the fund has jumped a healthy 21% on the year. With global economies picking up this year, the demand and use for this commodity has risen, allowing iPath DJ-UBS Tin Subindex Total Return SM (NYSEARCA:JJT) to profit. Unfortunately, even though this fund had a stellar performance this year, its low asset base and low trading volume makes it a candidate for being shuttered in the near future.

Best: iPath DJ-UBS Lead Subindex Total Return SM Index (NYSEARCA:LD) Not Far Behind

iPath DJ-UBS Lead Subindex Total Return SM Index (NYSEARCA:LD), which offers exposure to lead futures, tacked on 13% in 2012, as it was also able to benefit from global economies gathering steam. Similar to iPath DJ-UBS Tin Subindex Total Return SM (NYSEARCA:JJT), iPath DJ-UBS Lead Subindex Total Return SM Index (NYSEARCA:LD) has $4.9 million in assets and a trading volume that averages around 3,000 shares. Though the fund has been on the market since 2008, it still teeters on the edge of having its doors closed [see also Investing in Lead: The Definitive Guide].

Best: iPath Dow Jones UBS Copper Total Return Sub-Index (NYSEARCA:JJC) Falls In The Middle

iPath Dow Jones UBS Copper Total Return Sub-Index (NYSEARCA:JJC) tracks everyone’s favorite industrial metal: copper. This reddish-brown commodity is one of the most used in the industrial world and especially in the construction sector. iPath Dow Jones UBS Copper Total Return Sub-Index (NYSEARCA:JJC) was able to jump 5.7% this year, dragging behind markets and some of its industrial counterparts. As the homebuilding industry continues to recover, this may be a good fund to watch in 2013.