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Alternative Market Briefing

Hedge funds crowd crude, downside risk lingers

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Bailey McCann, Opalesque, New York: Hedge funds have started selling off their long positions in crude oil, however downside risk remains should funds opt to unwind those positions according to a new report from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. Writing in the report, lead hedge fund analyst Mary Ann Bartels writes that funds are also selling out of heading oil and gasoline while covering their positions in natural gas.

The investable hedge fund composite index was down 1.09% month-to-date (MTD) as of May 30, compared to down 6.05% for the S&P 500. CTA Advisors and Macro strategies performed the best and were the only two strategies with positive returns, up 2.29% and 0.35% MTD, respectively. Long/Short performed the worst, down 3.03%. Market Neutral funds bought market exposure to 17% net long – the highest since October 11. Equity Long/Short bought market exposure to 43% - above the 35-40% benchmark level for the first time since last June.

In commodities, funds continue to sell out of precious metals, pushing gold into the buy zone. Funds sold corn and soybean, but bought wheat to a net long for the first time since last June. In currencies, funds continued to buy up the US Dollar and Yen while adding to their shorts in the Euro, maintaining a months long short position.

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