Hedge funds are on track to deliver solid returns in July, up 1.4% month to date (0.4% last week). In line with our overweight recommendation, CTAs and Global Macro managers outperformed other hedge fund strategies.
Meanwhile, Event-Driven managers underperformed both last week and on a month-to-date basis, in line with our downgrade of the strategy from overweight to neutral early June. The event-driven strategy was negatively impacted recently due to its exposure to gold and energy related stocks. Asian event-driven managers have, on the contrary, delivered solid returns for a second week in a row, and contributed partly to compensate losses.
Philippe Ferreira, Senior Cross Asset Strategist Lyxor Asset Management enumerates the recent market developments have been supportive for hedge funds:
- The sharp fall in commodity prices in July has supported CTA managers. They have increased their short precious metals/short energy positions since end-May. CTAs also have no EM currency exposure. The slump in several EM currencies since mid- July is not having any meaningful implication for hedge funds (some Global Macro managers are long MXN/USD but this is compensated by short EUR/USD).
- CTAs are long GBP/USD and are thus capturing the hawkish tone of the Bank of England, which has expressed concerns over wage growth at its latest MPC meeting early July.
- Finally, the earnings season in the US has been a tailwind for L/S Equity managers for the time being. Technology, industrials and commodity related industries (oil, gas and materials) have disappointed, but the aggregate exposure of L/S Equity managers to these sectors has been significantly reduced since end-May (see chart below). Meanwhile, consumer cyclicals, financials and health care have all reported earnings in line with or above expectations and these are precisely the sectors where the bulk of the exposures are concentrated.
Overall, the hedge fund industry has recently demonstrated its nimbleness. It has been protected against falling equity and bond markets in May/June by adjusting exposures downwards quite rapidly. But it has also captured the rebound that took place in July. The beta exposure of equity strategies has recently been increased in line with the improving risk sentiment.