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About commodity investing

  • Commodities
  • Mutual Funds
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Commodities are raw materials that are either consumed directly, such as food, or used as building blocks to create other products. These materials include energy sources like oil and gas, natural resources like timber and agricultural products, or precious metals like gold and platinum.

Investing in commodities

There are several ways to consider investing in commodities. One is to purchase varying amounts of physical raw commodities, such as precious metal bullion. Investors can also invest through the use of futures contracts or exchange traded products (ETPs) that directly track a specific commodity index. These are highly volatile and complex investments that are generally recommended for sophisticated investors only.

Another way to gain exposure to commodities is through mutual funds that invest in commodity-related businesses. For instance, an oil and gas fund would own stocks issued by companies involved in energy exploration, refining, storage, and distribution.

Commodity stocks vs. commodities

Do commodity stocks and commodities always deliver the same returns? Not necessarily. As you can see in the chart below, there are times when one investment outperforms the other. Maintaining an allocation to each group may help contribute to a portfolio's overall long-term performance.

Advantages of commodity investing

Diversification

Over time, commodities and commodity stocks tend to provide returns that differ from other stocks and bonds. A portfolio with assets that don’t move in lockstep can help you better manage market volatility. However, diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.

Potential returns

Individual commodity prices can fluctuate due to factors such as supply and demand, exchange rates, inflation, and the overall health of the economy. In recent years, increased demand due to massive global infrastructure projects has greatly influenced commodity prices. In general, a rise in commodity prices has had a positive impact on the stocks of companies in related industries.

Potential hedge against inflation

Inflation—which can erode the value of stocks and bonds—can often mean higher prices for commodities. While commodities have shown strong performance in periods of high inflation, investors should note that commodities can be much more volatile than other types of investments.

Risks of commodity investing

Principal risk

Commodity prices can be extremely volatile and the commodities industry can be significantly affected by world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions, all of which can have an impact on commodity prices. There is a chance your investment could lose value.

Volatility

Mutual funds or exchange traded products (ETPs) that track a single sector or commodity may exhibit higher than average volatility. Also, commodity funds or ETPs that use futures, options, or other derivative instruments may further increase volatility.

Foreign and emerging market exposure

Apart from the risks associated with commodity investing, these funds also carry many of the risks that go along with investing in foreign and emerging markets, including volatility caused by political, economic, and currency instability.

Asset concentration

While commodity funds can play a role in a diversification strategy, the funds themselves are considered non-diversified as they invest a significant portion of their assets in fewer individual securities that are generally concentrated in one or two industries. As a result, changes in the market value of a single investment could cause greater fluctuations in share price than would occur in a more diversified fund.

Other risks

Commodity focused stock funds may use futures contracts to track an underlying commodity or commodity index. Trading in these types of securities is speculative and can be extremely volatile, potentially causing the performance of a fund to significantly differ from the performance of the underlying commodity. That difference can be positive or negative, depending on market conditions and the fund’s investment strategy.

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Before investing, consider the funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact Fidelity for a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus containing this information.  Read it carefully.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.

Indexes are unmanaged. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

The MSCI All Country World Commodity Producers Sector Capped Index is an equity-based, float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted index that contains commodity-producing companies based on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®). MSCI further aggregates GICS® sub-industries into Commodity Producers Sectors: Energy, Metals, and Agriculture sectors. The sector capped weighting scheme gives equal weight to the energy, metals, and agriculture sectors at each Quarterly Index Review.
The Dow Jones UBS Commodity Index is a liquid and diversified benchmark for commodities as an asset class. The index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities that are traded on U.S. exchanges with the exception of aluminum, nickel, and zinc which trade on the London Metal Exchange. Commodity futures contracts specify a delivery date for the underlying physical commodity. In order to avoid delivery and maintain a long futures position, nearby contracts must be sold and contracts that have not yet reached the delivery period must be purchased. This process is known as “rolling” a futures position. This index is a “rolling” index.
The Fund Evaluator is provided to help self-directed investors evaluate mutual funds based on their own needs and circumstances. The criteria entered is at the sole discretion of the user and any information obtained should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any securities. You acknowledge that your requests for information are unsolicited and shall neither constitute, nor be considered as investment advice by Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC., Fidelity Distributors Corporation, or their affiliates (collectively, "Fidelity").
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