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Hedge Funds Post Outflow of $3.5 Billion in April; Hedge Fund Managers Expect Debt Crisis to Worsen According to Survey

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Opalesque Industry Update - TrimTabs Investment Research and BarclayHedge reported that the hedge fund industry posted an estimated outflow of $3.5 billion, or 0.2% of assets, in April 2010, the third outflow in five months. Strong performance has added $338 billion to hedge fund coffers in the past year, lifting industry assets to $1.65 trillion, the highest level since November 2008.

“Recent flow weakness is surprising,” said Sol Waksman, CEO of BarclayHedge. “Industry performance has been stellar, and April is historically a strong month for subscriptions.”

The TrimTabs/BarclayHedge Survey of Hedge Fund Managers for May reveals that 52% of 143 respondents are bearish on the S&P 500, while only 16% are bullish. Alternately, they like the greenback — 49% are bullish on the U.S. dollar index, while only 15% are bearish. Additionally, 46% of managers think the rescue package the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund announced on May 10 will have negative long-term effects on the European debt crisis. Only 27% of managers believe the bailout will have a positive long-run impact.

“The bailout received a cool greeting, even within the eurozone,” said Vincent Deluard, Global Equity Strategist at TrimTabs. “The ‘shock and awe’ rescue package is unlikely to prevent speculators from attacking European currencies and punishing heavy debtors.”

In April, funds of hedge funds received money for the first time since November 2009, while commodity trading advisors posted a second straight inflow. Event-driven funds took in $2.1 billion in April, more than any other hedge fund strategy, while fixed income funds redeemed $2.5 billion, one of the largest outflows. Event-driven funds boast a year-to-date return of 5.8%, one of the best performances of all strategies.

“Hedge fund investors continued to shift into riskier strategies in April,” noted Deluard. “They returned to chasing performance after a year during which they exercised extreme caution.”

The TrimTabs/BarclayHedge Hedge Fund Flow Report shows that the volatility of macro hedge fund returns fell to an all-time low in April, while leverage surged. Meanwhile, many funds are positioned in handful of similar trades.

“High leverage and herd behavior make for a potentially dangerous cocktail,” cautioned Deluard. “Popular trades turning sour when everybody’s betting the same way could produce painful mass liquidations.”

The TrimTabs/BarclayHedge database tracks hedge fund flows on a monthly basis. The TrimTabs/BarclayHedge Hedge Fund Flow Report provides detailed analysis of these flows as well as relevant topical studies. Click here for further information.

BarclayHedge is a leading hedge fund data vendor and one of the foremost sources for proprietary research in the field of alternative investments. From its origin as a research specialist and performance measurement firm, BarclayHedge has developed complete client services as a publisher, database and software provider, and industry consultant.

TrimTabs Investment Research is the only independent research service that publishes detailed daily coverage of U.S. stock market liquidity--including mutual fund flows and exchange-traded fund flows--as well as weekly withheld income and employment tax collections. Founded by Charles Biderman, TrimTabs has provided institutional investors with trading strategies since 1990. Source
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