Hedge fund assets climb back above $2 trillion

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Author: Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Reuters

Hedge fund assets crossed the $2 trillion (1.2 trillion pound) level for the first time in a year, signaling investors' new willingness to return to alternative assets less than 12 months after the sector suffered heavy losses.

According to data released on Tuesday, total industry assets increased 3.4 percent last month to $2.037 trillion, HedgeFund.net, which tracks industry performance and asset flows, said.

Investors added $26.3 billion in November, marking the seventh straight month of investor inflows. Better market performance added another $40.5 billion.

This stands in sharp contrast to the roughly $1 trillion investors had pulled out in the year since June 2008. Gripped by the financial crisis, hedge funds lost an average 19 percent in 2008 with some individual funds suffering declines of 50 percent or more.

Hedge fund assets remain some $900 billion below the peak they reached in the second quarter of 2008.

For a time, investments in these loosely regulated portfolios were so popular with pension funds, endowments and wealthy individuals that assets doubled to roughly $2 trillion in three years.

In November, investors put most of their new money into riskier fixed income arbitrage strategies, while allocations to safer corporate bond strategies fell last month.

On Monday, Hedge Fund Research, another industry research firm, reported that the hedge funds have returned 18.80 percent since January and are on track to post their best returns in a decade.