Hedge Funds Ring In New Year By Beating S&P

Jan 13 2014 | 12:59pm ET

Hedge funds started 2014 by doing something they rarely accomplished in 2013: beating the S&P 500 Index.

The average hedge fund was up 0.17% in the first week of the new year, according to the Bank of America Merill Lynch investable hedge fund composite index, while the S&P 500 was down 0.53%.

CTAs and event-driven strategies were the best performers over the monitored period, adding 1.20% and 0.40%, respectively.

BofAML analyst MacNeil Curry said market neutral funds increased their market exposure to 15% net long from 9% net long in the first week of January while equity long/short funds reduced their market exposure to 16% net long; well below their 35-40% benchmark level.

Macro funds slightly reduced their long exposure to the S&P but increased their exposure to the NASDAQ. They reduced their U.S. dollar longs, increased their exposure to commodities and maintained their long exposure to 10-year Treasuries. They also reduced their small cap tilt. Overseas, said Curry, they neutralized their short EM exposure while slightly increasing their EAFE short exposure.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed large equities specs increased their net longs in the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 but trimmed their NASDAQ longs.

Agriculture specs decreased their soybean longs, increased their wheat shorts and maintained their corn shorts while large metals specs added to their longs across the board—in gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium.

Large energy specs trimmed their crude and gasoline longs and increased their natural gas and heating oil shorts.

FX specs cut their euro longs and yen shorts while maintaining their Australian dollar shorts and reducing their long position in British pound futures.

Interest rate specs reduced their 10-year short positions, increased their 30-year longs but neutralized their 2-year longs to become net short.

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