Market neutral hedge funds increased their market exposure to 16% net long, as of mid-May, approaching a 2012 high, according to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch Hedge Fund Monitor.
The investable hedge fund composite index was up 1.26% as of May 15, led by convertible arbitrage funds (up 2.51%) and event-driven funds (up 1.81%). Market neutral funds, down 0.74%, were the worst performers over the monitored period.
BofAML analyst Stephen Suttmeier said equity long/short funds reduced market exposure to 41% from 42% net long, remaining above the 35-40% benchmark level. Macro funds partially covered their shorts in the S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and commodities; marginally covered their shorts in Treasury notes; and aggressively sold their long positions in the U.S. dollar index. Macros, on the other hand, bought EM to the highest net long since September 2012, while readings in EAFE are the highest since 2011.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission data shows large speculators bought the S&P 500 and Russell 2000, while remaining flat the NASDAQ 100.
Agriculture specs bought soybeans and corn while adding to their wheat shorts; metals specs sold gold and silver, bought platinum and palladium and partially covered copper; and energy specs bought crude oil and gasoline while adding to their shorts in heating oil and natural gas shorts.
Foreign exchange speculators added to their euro and yen shorts but increased their US dollar index longs and interest rate specs sold 10- and 2-year Treasuries, but increased 30-year Treasury longs.