Hedge Funds Turn Around, With Good First Quarter

Rebound comes after a bruising 2018, as health care and emerging markets do well.

After a battering in 2018, hedge funds have regained their footing with a 5.6% return in the first quarter, with an especially good showing for those investing in health care and emerging markets, according to BarclayHedge.

This improved performance follows a recovery in the equities market. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 13% for the year’s first three months. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate, which tracks the bond market, increased 2.9% for the period.

Hedge funds were up for each of the three months, with an average rise of 0.67% in March, a month where some of stocks’ upward momentum slowed (the S&P inched up 1.9%).

“The Fed’s announcement that it would hold interest rates steady for the remainder of the year added fuel to the ongoing uptrends in stock and bond markets,” said Sol Waksman, president of BarclayHedge, a unit of Backstop Solutions Group. “Asian emerging markets responded enthusiastically to signs of a thaw in a US-China trade war, while lower US interest rates added further momentum.”

Through March, the top category was health care and biotechnology, up 13.9%. Emerging markets Asian equities rose 9.6% and EM global fixed income,  9.7%.

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