Hedge funds up 1.48 per cent in March despite ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and persistent inflationary pressure

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The Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index gained 1.48 per cent in March 2022, supported by the robust performance of the S&P 500 which returned 3.58 per cent over the same period. 

Eurekahedge writes that the first half of March started out on a negative note due to Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine in late February which elicited severe economic sanctions on Russia from the US and their allies in a bid to cripple the Russian economy and war effort. The crisis has raised concerns over stagflation at a time when the US Federal Reserve is shifting to a more hawkish monetary policy stance in a bid to curb record levels of inflation, raising policy rates by 25bps for the first time in March, the first hike since 2018. 

Consequently, the US 10-year treasury yield rose 52 bp to 2.35 per cent, the highest level since April 2019. Russia and Ukraine have since conducted several rounds of peace negotiations, which allayed investors’ fears and boosted hope that Putin will finally seek a negotiated end to his invasion. Over in Europe, returns were mixed among equity benchmarks in the region with the Euro Stoxx 50 down -0.55 per cent while the RTS Stock Index gained 9.00 per cent after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to sell gas in Roubles stabilised the currency and enabled a 29.5 per cent recovery. Returns were mixed across geographic mandates in March, with the Latin American mandate taking the lead with a return of 3.87 per cent while the Asia ex-Japan mandate trailed behind their peers with a return of -2.83 per cent. Across strategies, the CTA/Managed Futures mandate performed the best with a return of 4.76 per cent while the arbitrage mandate trailed behind their peers with a return of -1.43 per cent.

Roughly 61.0 per cent of the underlying constituents of the Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index posted positive returns in March, and 24.2 per cent of the hedge fund managers in the database were able to outperform the S&P 500. 

Key highlights for the month of March 2022: 
•    Hedge fund managers were up 1.48 per cent in March, trailing behind the S&P 500 which was up 3.58 per cent over the month. Around 61 per cent of global hedge funds have posted positive returns in March and 46.0 per cent of them have maintained positive performance over the first quarter of the year.

•    On an asset-weighted basis, hedge funds were up 1.62 per cent in March, as captured by the Eurekahedge Asset Weighted Index – USD, outperforming its equal-weighted counterpart by 0.14 per cent. Large-size hedge funds have outperformed their smaller peers as seen in the 1.66 per cent return of the Eurekahedge Top 300 Asset Weighted Index – USD. On the other end of the spectrum, small and medium-size hedge funds were up 1.30 per cent and 1.10 per cent respectively. 

•    The Eurekahedge European Hedge Fund Index was up 0.20 per cent in March, outperforming DAX by 0.52 per cent during the month. European equities have posted limited upside compared to their US counterparts, driven by the hawkish European Central Bank. In the same vein, although Ukraine and Russia were in peace negotiations, uncertainties about the said event have acted as a headwind to the region’s equity market. In terms of year-to-date return, European hedge funds were down 3.43 per cent. 

•    The Eurekahedge CTA/Managed Futures Hedge Fund Index was up 4.76 per cent in March, recording its strongest monthly performance since 2007. Fund managers benefitted from higher commodity prices particularly oil, which can be exacerbated further by a potential banning of Russian oil by European countries. In terms of year-to-date performance, CTA/managed futures managers were up 6.99 per cent, posting their best quarterly performance since 2000.

•    The Eurekahedge North American Hedge Fund Index was up 1.28 per cent in March, thanks to the positive performance of US equities with the S&P 500 up 3.58 per cent over the same month. US equities inched higher during the month, supported by strong corporate earnings and easing tensions in Eastern Europe, shrugging off the threat of higher inflation and interest rates. On a year-to-date basis, North American hedge funds were down 1.55 per cent in the first quarter of 2022.

•    The Eurekahedge Greater China Hedge Fund Index was down 5.14 per cent in March, outperforming the underlying equity market in the region by 3.49 per cent and 0.93 per cent as represented by the Shenzhen and Shanghai Composite respectively during the month. Greater China hedge funds recorded their eighth month of losses over the last nine months as the slowing growth in China and delisting of Chinese companies in the US weighed on the region’s equity market. The Hang Seng was down 5.99 per cent in 2022 and ended the month of March trading at its 68th month low.

•    Fund managers focusing on cryptocurrencies gained 8.81 per cent in March, bringing their Q1 return to -9.81 per cent as represented by the Eurekahedge Crypto-Currency Hedge Fund Index. Cryptocurrencies posted a strong recovery during the month as Bitcoin was up 24.82 per cent in March, erasing its losses posted in January and February.

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