The Van Global Hedge Fund Index, a benchmark of hedge fund performance run by Van Hedge Fund Advisors International, rose 3.7% in May, net of fees, up from a 2.6% gain in April, according to a preliminary report. That brings the index up 7% for 2003, marking its best calendar-year start since 1999.

Within that universe, distressed securities and emerging markets have been among the top hedge fund strategies this year. Aggressive growth funds, however, showed the strongest returns in May.

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