Santa Claus didn't have much in his sack for hedge funds last month.
The average industry player didn't exactly find coal in its stocking, but it didn't find much of a rally, either. The HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index rose just 0.56% in December, ending the year with an uninspiring 6.72% return, as far from the Standard & Poor's 500 Index's 30% jump as the North Pole is from the Cayman Islands.
Still, most strategies tracked by Hedge Fund Research rose both in 2013 and in December, led on both counts by master-limited partnership, which returned 26.35% last year after a 3.53% December jump. Special-situations funds ended 2013 up 18.17% (0.38% in December), followed by fundamental value funds at 16.05% (1.39%), event-driven funds at 13.87% (0.28%), equity hedge funds at 11.14% (1.25%) and convertible arbitrage funds at 10.42% (1.11%).
Credit hedge funds rose 6.87% on the year (0.45% in December), distressed restructuring funds 5.37% (down 0.02%), fundamental growth funds 4.18% (1.21%), merger arbitrage funds 4.03% (0.45%), relative-value arbitrage funds 2.96% (0.6%), equity-market neutral funds 1.72% (0.17%), multi-strategy funds 0.92% (0.25%) and emerging markets funds 0.23% (0.1%).
Only two strategies in the HFRX suite lost ground in 2013: Macro funds and commodity trading advisers shed 1.79% (down 0.05% in December) and systematic diversified CTAs fell 1.3% (up 0.55%).