Uranium funds surf price surge in renewed bets on nuclear power

Yellowcake (uranium concentrate) produced at Cameco’s Rabbit Lake mine in Saskatchewan. Credit: Cameco

Uranium funds have soared from their summer lows as a global energy crunch revives interest in nuclear power.

The $1.8 billion Global X Uranium ETF (ticker URA) has rallied about 30% and the $1 billion Sprott Uranium Miners ETF (ticker URNM) is up nearly 43% from their July 6 lows. Meanwhile, the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, which holds about $3 billion worth of the radioactive material, has jumped about 30% since its July 13 bottom.

While fund inflows aren’t nearly as hefty as they were during previous booms for nuclear fuel investment products, strategists remain positive on the fundamental case for the radioactive material and blame the broader stock market slump for the low activity.

After draining cash for three months, URA has pulled in about $70 million in net flows in August and is set to outpace that amount this month. It’s a pickup, but nowhere close to the $425 million the fund pulled in during March, or the over $860 million it attracted throughout 2021. Last month, investors pulled $4 million from URNM, compared to $13 million inflows in July.

“People have bigger fish to fry right now with the 60/40 getting hammered all year so they’re less willing to start an exposure in a theme. But this story isn’t going anywhere, so we think Uranium ETFs have a bright future,” said Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Intelligence senior ETF analyst.

Global power shortages and soaring energy costs have increased the allure of nuclear energy as a viable alternative resource, sending the UxC Uranium U308 spot price up about 7% from its July 15 low.

Leaders across Germany, Japan and the US have recently moved to keep nuclear plants alive and are looking to restart dormant facilities to combat power strains. Meantime, public support for “Japan to fire up its nuclear plants” rose to 60% for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report.

“We do really like the theme around nuclear. Longer term, it’s a very viable option to address some of the energy shortages,” said Suzanne Hutchins, head of the real return strategy and senior portfolio manager at Newton Investment Management. “Certainly, uranium would be high conviction in this environment.”

(By Emily Graffeo)

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