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HFRI: Hedge fund returns relatively flat for quarter

Hedge fund returns for the quarter ended March 31 remained relatively flat, while net inflows exceeded $1 billion, Hedge Fund Research reported Thursday.

The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite index returned 0.14% in the quarter ended March 31, with a strong January return of 2.34% offsetting returns in February and March of -1.75% and 0.41%, respectively, both impacted by trade and tariff volatility, according to the report. The index returned 2.57% the previous quarter and 2.51% in the year-earlier quarter.

Net inflows for the quarter totaled $1.1 billion, with gains partially offset by equity hedge strategies' outflows. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of positive net inflows. Net inflows totaled $6.9 billion in the previous quarter. The first quarter of 2017 saw $5.5 billion in net outflows, the last quarter that had net outflows. Net inflows for 2017 totaled $9.8 billion.

Event-driven strategies led net inflows among hedge funds, with $4.4 billion during the first quarter, followed by fixed income-based relative-value arbitrage strategies bringing in a net $2.3 billion and macro hedge funds with $909 million in net inflows for the first quarter. Equity hedge strategies had net outflows of $6.57 billion in the first quarter.

Hedge Fund Research's estimated strategy composition by assets under management for the first quarter was 29% for equity hedge strategies, 26% for relative-value strategies, 26%, event-driven strategies and 19%, macro hedge funds.

The HFRI Asset Weighted Composite index returned 0.57% for the first quarter, compared to 2.12% the previous quarter and 2% in the year-earlier quarter.

"The dominant trends in the hedge fund industry in 1Q18 included broader equity market outperformance and defensive positioning as it pertains to overall equity market valuation, as well as specific to trade and tariff volatility which accelerated through the end of the quarter," said Kenneth J. Heinz, president of Hedge Fund Research, in a news release.