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In January Rout, Hedge Funds ‘Win’ by Losing Less Than Stocks

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In a month of stunning market volatility, hedge funds in January suffered their biggest loss since May 2012, with returns down by 2.6%, according to Preqin, an alternatives data provider.

Hedge funds pursuing equity strategies fell by 4.3% — better only by comparison with the S&P 500, which lost 5.1%, and MSCI World, down by 6.1%.

“Global economic headwinds have seen many public markets fall by in excess of 5%, so the industry has successfully hedged the losses of some investors,” Amy Bensted, Preqin’s head of hedge fund products, said in a statement.

In contrast, commodity trading advisors turned in their best monthly performance since January 2015, up 1.4%. And funds of CTAs, which plummeted to a nearly 7% loss last year, recorded the best return of any fund type in January, up 3.9%.

Macro strategies also gained in January, up by 1%.

“In light of the current market environment, these products — which can provide some noncorrelation and downside protection — may see increased interest from investors over the coming months,” Bensted said.

Preqin reported that no leading fund size group reported positive figures in January.

Funds in the $500 million to $999 million range fell by 3.1%, and those with assets of $1 billion or more were down by 2.9%. Funds managing less than $100 million provided the best hedging, though still with losses of 2.5%.

Volatility hedge funds (funds whose offering documents state that they use volatility on some scale to influence trading decisions) were down 0.1% in January — strong compared with other fund types and traditional markets. These funds have recorded a 12-month gain of 5.3%.

Emerging markets hedge funds lost 3.2% in January, pushing 12-month returns down to a 1.4% loss.

For their part, developed markets funds gained 0.5%. North America-focused funds, however, lost 3.5% in January.

Liquid alternative mutual funds suffered a negative return of 2.5% in January, their worst monthly loss since 2011, and are down by 5.2% for 12 months.

Likewise, UCITS hedge funds, the European liquid alternative, posted a loss of 2.5% in January. For 12 months, they are down 3%.