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Hedge funds: Revenge of the CTAs

Once out of favour, futures traders are coming into their own by maintaining solid positive returns in grim markets, argues Neil Wilson.

In association with Hedge Fund Intelligence

Amid all the gloom in recent weeks about the apparent inability of hedge funds to cope with a collapsing world economy, there has been one subset of the industry that has stood out as a beacon – an exception, where returns have continued to be very positive, and of course non-correlated with plunging equity markets. The exception has been those that ply strategies trading in futures markets – collectively known as managed futures traders or as commodity trading advisers (CTAs).

The HedgeFund Intelligence Global Composite index was battered as never before in September (down 3.71%) and October (down another 2.35%) to take its year-to-date loss for 2008 to more than 7%. But, at the same time, the HFI Global Managed Futures index posted gains for both September and October (up about 5%), taking its year-to-date total gain up to an impressive 12.3%. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that without the contribution of these futures players – which made up about 13% of total European hedge fund assets at the mid-year point of 2008 – the overall performance of the industry would look much sicker this year than it does already.

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