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Hedge Funds’ Four-Month Run in the Black Ends in May with Industry Down 1.47% According to Backstop BarclayHedge; Trade Disputes, Tariffs and Depressed Oil Prices Weigh Down Returns

Global trade disputes and oil price downturns took a toll on hedge funds in May, bringing an end to the industry’s four-month run of positive returns. For the month, the hedge fund industry was down 1.47%, according to the Barclay Hedge Fund Index compiled by BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions.

By comparison, the S&P 500 Total Return Index was down 6.35% for the month. Year-to-date through the end of May, hedge funds returned 5.23%, while the S&P was up 10.59% on the year.

“Hopeful signs from U.S.-China trade talks vanished in the face of heightened tariffs and proved to be a drag on equity markets in May,” said Sol Waksman, president of BarclayHedge. “The trade war and the accompanying decrease in oil prices further weighed down hedge fund returns.”

While the overall industry was down in May, there were gainers among hedge fund sectors. Leading the way was the Option Strategies Index, up 1.93% for the month, followed by the Emerging Markets Eastern Europe Index and the Emerging Markets Eastern European Equities Index, both up 1.01% in May.

“Eastern Europe remains a strong economic story,” said Waksman. “Economic expansion appears to be continuing in Poland, while first quarter growth in Romania exceeded projections and Hungary’s first quarter growth was the strongest in almost 20 years.”

Among the other sectors posting positive numbers in May were the Emerging Markets Global Fixed Income Index, up 0.74%, and the European Equities Index, with a 0.46% return for the month.

Far more sectors were in the red for May than in the black. The Technology Index was down 4.40% for the month, the Emerging Markets Global Equities Index, down 4.28%, the Emerging Markets Asian Equities Index, down 4.18% in May, and the Equity Long Bias Index dropped 3.47%.

Strong Eastern European economic performance showed up again in year-to-date returns. Through the end of May, the Emerging Markets Eastern European Equities Index was up 12.06% while the Emerging Markets Eastern Europe Index gained 11.17%. Other notable year-to-date gainers included the Healthcare & Biotechnology Index, up 11.90% on the year, the Emerging Markets Global Fixed Income Index, returning 9.95% year-to-date and the Technology Index, with an 8.15% return through the end of May.

For a complete table of BarclayHedge Hedge Fund and Sub-Index results for May, as well as historical returns, click here.

About Backstop Solutions

Backstop’s mission is to help the institutional investment industry use time to its fullest potential. We develop technology to simplify and streamline otherwise time-consuming tasks and processes, enabling our clients to quickly and easily access, share, and manage the knowledge that’s critical to their day-to-day business success. Backstop provides its industry-leading cloud-based productivity suite to investment consultants, pensions, funds of funds, family offices, endowments, foundations, private equity, hedge funds, and real estate investment firms.

BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop, currently maintains data on more than 6,900 hedge funds, funds of funds, and CTAs. The BarclayHedge Indices are utilized by institutional investors, brokerage firms, and private banks worldwide as performance benchmarks for the hedge fund and managed futures industries.


Sol Waksman 

BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions Group 

(641) 472-3456