Hedge funds jumped 2.84% to open 2013, according to one industry benchmark.
The Barclay Hedge Fund Index rode a big rise in stocks in January—the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added more than 5% on the month—and was buoyed by strong economic indicators all around.
"Fiscal cliff fears receded, European banks strengthened, China avoided a hard landing, Japan stimulated its economy and global equities rallied," BarclayHedge chief Sol Waksman explained. "Economic sentiment continues to improve and investors have moved to a 'risk on' mode as fears of a euro collapse diminish."
Sixteen of the 18 strategies tracked by BarclayHedge rose last month, led by Pacific Rim equities, up 5.23%. Equity long-bias funds benefited from the stock rally, gaining 4.13%, as did European equities, up 4.12%. Emerging markets funds gained 3.66%, healthcare and biotechnology funds 3.55% and equity long/short funds 2.85%.
The two losing strategies included—unsurprisingly—equity short-bias, which extended its 24.18% loss from last year with a January swoon of 8.06%. Merger arbitrage funds also lost ground, dropped 1.34%.
Funds of hedge funds returned 2.08% in the first month of the year, BarclayHedge said.