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Hurricane Harvey Puts These ETF Areas in Focus

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Residents of southeastern Texas are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which continues to wreak havoc on America’s fourth-largest city with heavy rainfall. The record-flood situation is likely to turn worse as the deluge is expected to continue for some days, as per Bloomberg. It is predicted to become the first storm of Category 3 or higher to hit Texas in the last 12 years.

Needless to say, a catastrophe of this level is most likely to mess up citizens’ lives. With them, several effects on corporate life are likely to be noted.


As per Reuters, Harvey has thumped a quarter of oil production from the Gulf of Mexico and over 10% of U.S. refining capacity. The area is a major hub for oil refineries. Several energy companies have shut down their operations. The last major storm that lashed this region in 2008 was Hurricane Ike, which cost the refining industry roughly $30 billion.

This sparked off concerns about oversupply situation in the U.S. Lower demand from refineries is likely to pressure crude oil prices and ETFs like United States Oil Fund LP (USO - Free Report) . Oil exploration ETF like The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE - Free Report) this may lose ahead due to lack of activity.

However, demand for finished product gasoline should rise. Gasoline futures on Monday jumped to a two-year high level, which should benefit United States Gasoline Fund (UGA - Free Report) .  The difference in the price of crude oil for October delivery and Nymex gasoline futures for September — the "crack spread" — doubled to about $24 on Friday, as per an article published on CNBC. This should benefit VanEck Vectors Oil Refiners ETF (CRAK - Free Report) (read: 4 Sector ETFs Winning on Revenue Growth).


Severe destruction is likely after Harvey’s passage as flooding in Texas may be identical to that of 2005's Hurricane Katrina -- “the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, said an insurance research group.” Insurance stocks normally fall over 1% in the month following the disaster caused by a Category 3 storm and severe flooding.

John Dickson, president of NFS Edge Insurance Agency, estimates about 15% of the Houston area to be insured for flood. As a result, property and casualty insurance companies may be hit hard as these are likely to shell out handsomely on claims in such catastrophic storms.

Insurance companies like Chubb Limited (CB - Free Report) , The Allstate Corporation ALL, Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU - Free Report) and Progressive Corp. PGR are likely to be hurt. The insurance ETF iShares Dow Jones US Insurance Fund (IAK - Free Report) will feel the brunt (see all Financials ETFs here).


As per Bloomberg,the rain is washing away the largest U.S. cotton producer, drenching extra supplies stored on fields by many Texas farmers. Ports like Galveston will remain closed till Harvey dies out.

The Bloomberg article went on to point out that ports at the Texas Gulf make up about 24% of U.S. wheat exports, 3% of corn shipments and 2% of soybeans. Naturally, this pseudo supply crisis will likely push up crop prices, benefiting ETFs like iPath Pure Beta Cotton ETN CTNN, Teucrium Wheat Fund (WEAT - Free Report) , Teucrium Corn ETF (CORN - Free Report) and Teucrium Soybean ETF (SOYB - Free Report) . In fact, in such a heavy downpour, livestock is also at risk, which may push up iPath Pure Beta Livestock ETN LSTK (read: Should You Ride the Momentum in Grain ETFs?).


Rail transportation near Houston has been delayed and massive gridlock on highways is expected. As many as 1,847 flights were canceled on Sunday at airports in Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, and an additional 1,580 were called off for Monday, according to FlightAware and quoted on Bloomberg. Naturally, transportation ETFs like SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN - Free Report) and U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS - Free Report) may feel the pressure ahead (read: What Lies Ahead of Leisure & Travel ETFs in 2H?).

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