Commodity fund specialist Van Eck Global launched a new index-based, open-end mutual fund, the Van Eck CM Commodity Index Fund on Friday, hoping to temper and some recent negative market performances that have reduced index returns for investors.

The fund launched under the tickers CMCAX, COMIX, and CMCYX and seeks to reduce an effect in commodities trading called contango, which happens when a maturing futures contract price exceeds the expected spot price. Contango can stifle returns for commodities investors, as it did on the iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed ETF, for several years. Indeed, returns on that index were reduced annually by 8%, said Kristen Capuano, a managing director at Van Eck, who is also in charge of product development and marketing. “To me, that is a serious problem,” she said in a telephone call earlier today.

The new fund, CMCI for short, seeks to mitigate reduced returns, or negative roll yield, by diversifying the fund’s exposure across multiple maturities. The new fund seeks to track the performance of the UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Total Return Index. Mike Mazier, the portfolio manager on the new fund, is a specialist in quantitative analysis and strategy, and the firm is hoping that his background will enable to fund to deliver solid returns to investors, and at a lower price. The CM Commmodity Index Fund will have an expense ration of 95 basis points a year, which falls well below the 139 basis-point cost on the Van Eck Global Hard Assets fund.

“We wanted to break into the futures space, and we wanted the right index to use,” Capuano said. “What led us to UBS was the negative roll reduction. We’ve done this in response to the needs of advisors and users.”

The CMCI is diversified across 26 commodities and five maturities. It will be rebalanced monthly, to reduce the risk of overconcentration in any single commodity. New York City-based Van Eck manages two mutual funds and 10 commodity equity ETFs, and the firm had $30 billion under management at the end of 2010.