Despite heightened patches of political and economic instability around the globe in the first couple of months of 2011, many hedge funds of various strategies found ways to thrive, according to figures from Morningstar.
The Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index, a composite of the largest hedge funds in the Chicago-based research firm’s database, rose 1.5% in February. Also for the month, the currency-hedged Morningstar MSCI Hedge Fund Index grew 1.2%.
Funds in Morningstar’s Global Trend Hedge Fund Index rose 2.7%. They took advantage of the positive price trends in energy and agricultural commodities, like cocoa, and ultimately profited from the turbulence in North Africa and the Middle East, according to the research firm. Long gold positions boosted other, more fundamentally driven macro-economic hedge fund strategies, like the ones in the non-trend hedge fund index, which were up 1.3%.
When it came to U.S. and European equity strategies, hedging limited gains for most funds, Morningstar said. The Europe Equity Hedge Fund Index climbed 1.8% against the MSCI Europe’s 3.3% increase. U.S. equity funds took greater advantage of the rally, edging up 2.2% against the S&P 500’s 3.4% surge.
As for flows, which Morningstar measured through January, hedge funds that follow global trends collected $2 billion in assets. Convertible arbitrage and U.S. equity hedge funds in Morningstar’s database had significant outflows of $734 million and $2.6 billion, respectively. Overall, Morningstar said its hedge fund database saw outflows of $1.5 billion, the second consecutive month of outflows.
The outflow trend was more pronounced in its funds of funds database. That group saw outflows of $630 million in January, for the fifth consecutive month.
In terms of performance, the hedge fund of fund index ended up 1.2% in February. It underperformed both the overall hedge fund index, as well as multi-strategy hedge funds—up 1.7%—for the second month running.