On the last day of February, the price of crude climbed to its highest level since January 6. While it still has a ways to go to be a rebound of any note, no less an authority than Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said this week that it expects oil to trade in a range of $40 to $80 per barrel.
And on Thursday, the energy sector turned positive for the year, though only by the slightest of percentage gains.
Those who want to take advantage of a potential rebound may want to consider getting into the sector now, when stock prices are still depressed. While one can buy energy-related stocks, that's not an approach for the faint of heart, and there may be a cheaper and less risky way to play this sector.
Over the last several years, numerous sector-focused ETFs have come to market, including several energy industry funds. Since ETFs track market indexes, it's not surprising that most energy ETFs have done poorly over the last year.
For instance, the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), the largest energy ETF, with $12 billion in assets, is down 22 percent over the last 12 months and 1.4 percent on the year. Other funds, such as the PowerShares' S&P Small-Cap Energy Portfolio ETF (PSCE) is down much more — 55 percent over the last 12 months and 14 percent since January.