May 7, 2020 / 9:37 PM / a month ago

Global hedge funds post April gains but still negative for the year - data

BOSTON (Reuters) - Global hedge funds posted their biggest monthly gain in more than a decade in April when stocks rocketed higher with the help of government rescue packages designed to fuel growth stalled by the coronavirus outbreak, according to new data on Thursday.

The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index climbed 4.8% last month, marking its best showing since May 2009 when it gained 5.15% at the tail end of the financial crisis, research firm Hedge Fund Research said.

Managers that focus on stocks, bet on corporate events, and engage in activism by pushing management to perform better delivered the industry’s biggest gains in a month that saw the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gain 12.81%, HFR data shows.

Still, April’s returns were not enough to erase three months of losses, including an 8.42% drop in March, and the average hedge fund remains in the red for the year with an average loss of 6.6%, the data shows. The S&P 500 index is off 9.28% in the first fourth months of 2020.

The difference between winners and losers was large last month, HFR said. It noted that the top decile of managers who submit their data to the firm gained 19.7% while the bottom decile fell 4.1%, representing a dispersion of 23.8 percentage points.

Big market swings, including the drop in oil prices, helped hedge funds in April, HFR President Ken Heinz said in a statement.

An uncertain outlook for the months ahead, as unemployment soars and certain sectors return to business after weeks of lockdown, could create “dynamic opportunities for managers to generate outperformance through the remainder of the year,” Heinz added.

Hedge funds often promise to protect capital from sharp market swings, but investors still get cold feet. They pulled $33 billion out of the hedge fund market as performance sagged in the first three months of the year, marking the biggest quarterly outflows in more than a decade, the HFR data shows.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Tom Brown

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