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3 Oil ETFs to Buy as Crude Prices Rise Again

Oil prices have rebounded nicely from early-year lows. As energy stocks rise, these three oil ETFs are an efficient way to play the rally.

Oil Platform at Sea with Sunset representing oil investing and ETFs

Oil prices have come a long way from negative $37 a barrel. Three years removed from West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures going negative for the first time in history in May 2020, oil prices are once again approaching $100 per barrel. Meanwhile, energy stocks, in the dumps after months of losses to start 2023, have gotten off their knees and then some. But individual energy stocks can still seem a tad unpredictable. Oil ETFs are a more efficient way to play the rebound.

As we so often say here at Cabot Wealth Network, we’re stock pickers. We prefer to recommend individual stocks—growth stocks, value stocks, small-cap stocks, etc. However, there are occasions when we recommend exchange-traded funds (ETFs). One of those occasions is when there’s a red-hot or rebounding sector and you want to take full advantage of its momentum. Rather than pick one or two stocks, it can make sense to buy an ETF that tracks a whole basket of stocks in that sector.


That’s why oil ETFs are a good option right now. Here are three that have shown particular strength as oil prices have gained steam.

3 Oil ETFs to Play the Crude Rally

iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (IEO)

As the name suggests, this ETF holds oil and gas companies specifically focused on exploration and production. It counts ConocoPhillips (COP), Marathon Petroleum (MPC) and EOG Resources (EOG) among its 10 largest holdings (out of 45). IEO has returned about 12% so far in 2023 despite a slow start to the year and is once again trading near all-time highs set in November of 2022. A breakout to the upside would make an attractive entry point should oil stocks stay in gear.


Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE)

The XLE is essentially a proxy for energy stocks as a group, with holdings that include all of the biggest names in the sector (Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Phillips 66 (PSX), SLB (SLB), etc.), the 10 largest of which account for 73% of the fund’s total assets. So as crude oil prices have accelerated, so has the XLE; it’s up 17% in the last year, and 8% YTD.


PowerShares DB Oil Fund (DBO)

This one’s a bit more niche, but it’s based on the value of crude oil futures contracts, which is where the DBO invests 100% of its assets. When oil prices rise, this fund rises even faster. To wit: since oil futures got up off their knees at the beginning of July, DBO is up 27%.


Bottom line: Oil prices are once again approaching triple-digit levels, and could keep going higher as the Russia-Ukraine crisis drags on and Saudia Arabia imposes their own production cap. And that makes energy stocks a good place to be. Investing in any one of these oil ETFs is a nice catch-all way to play the rebound, gaining access to an entire chunk of a fast-recovering sector.

Do you own any energy stocks or ETFs not on this list? Tell us about them in the comments below.


*This post has been updated from the original version, published in 2016.

Chris Preston is Cabot Wealth Network’s Vice President of Content and Chief Analyst of Cabot Stock of the Week.