OPEC's Surprise Move Spurred a Gigantic Inflow Into an Oil Stock ETF

(Bloomberg) -- Amid an OPEC deal that spurred a furious rally in oil prices on Thursday, investors flooded into an exchange traded fund that offered them exposure to U.S.-listed production and exploration firms.

Front-month West Texas Intermediate futures contracts soared 13 percent since Tuesday as member nations of OPEC agreed to their first production cut in eight years, with Russia also pledging to reduce output.

XOP, the SPDR S&P Oil and Gas Exploration and Production ETF, saw record inflows exceeding $1 billion on Thursday, more than double its previous high.

OPEC's Surprise Move Spurred a Gigantic Inflow Into an Oil Stock ETF
Source: Bloomberg

That's roughly a thousand times its average daily inflow, which made it tops among equity ETFs for the session. The enthusiasm for this product marks a stark about-face on the part of investors; for the five sessions ending Tuesday, XOP saw its heaviest weekly withdrawals of 2016.

"XOP has proven to be the best ETF to play an extended oil rebound both this year and back in 2009," said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. "It holds stocks so it doesn't have any of the roll costs that cripple USO, but at the same time its small-cap exposure gives it more pop than XLE."

This ETF, which is concentrated in upstream firms and therefore trades more in-line with crude oil than similar products that include more integrated oil giants, is up nearly 40 percent year-to-date. Its recent gains have substantially extended its outperformance relative to the S&P 500 index for the year.

(Updates with analyst comment.)

To contact the author of this story: Luke Kawa in New York at lkawa@bloomberg.net.