Happy Easter Monday. May your basket overflow with marshmallow Peeps.» Read More
There are surprisingly few signs that equity hedge funds have made big changes to their portfolios following a brutal recent move away from stocks with high potential for growth, especially technology companies.
Hedge funds have even downsized their short positions, or bets on stocks to decline. Sectors where short positions decreased over the week of April 7 included information technology (down 8.86 percent); telecommunications (-4.95 percent); financials (-5.70 percent); and consumer discretionary (-10.29 percent), according to a recent UBS report.
Overall, the average equity focused fund increased its market exposure from 38 percent to 40 percent net long, according to a separate report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "Net long" means that a fund's bets on the appreciation of the market outweigh the value of their shorts.
"Despite recent challenges in the markets, funds are maintaining exposure and we haven't seen signs of a widespread liquidation," said Jon Kinderlerer, who analyzes Credit Suisse's hedge fund client portfolios as head of risk and portfolio advisory for the bank's prime brokerage division.
Whatever portfolio tweaks were made, it hasn't worked yet: The average stock-focused fund fell 1.23 percent in the first week of April, according to the Bank of America report.
A particularly volatile streak in the technology sector and setbacks in other growth stocks are creating the least hospitable market conditions for equity-focused hedge funds in at least a year and a half, say market participants, creating sizable losses in a matter of days.
Since the beginning of April, large hedge funds such as Viking Global Investors, Maverick Capital and Lone Pine Capital have stumbled likely in part due to losses on their tech positions, people familiar with the matter said. Overall, the average stock-focused fund fell 1.23 percent in the first week of April, according to report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"The past two weeks for hedge funds have been diabolical," said one stock-fund manager who has been struck by the sharp intraday swings in both the Nasdaq Composite Index and the iShares Russell 2000 small-stock index, which have fallen by a respective 2.6 percent and 3.2 percent in April so far. Monday, April 7, on which the Nasdaq's gyrations were especially pointed, he added, "was one of the worst days for hedge funds since 2008."
Read MoreMarch tech lossesburn hedge funds
Here's further proof that serious international investors are warming to Africa: The Carlyle Group announced Wednesday that it had raised $698 million for its dedicated continental fund, nearly $200 million above its initial target.
The firm initially sought $500 million for the Carlyle Sub-Saharan Africa Fund when it launched in March 2012. The firm's Africa operations are based out of Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, and its investments focus on buyouts and minority investments in goods, logistics, financial services, agribusiness and energy.
"We are optimistic about prospects for investing in Sub-Saharan Africa," David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Carlyle, said in a statement announcing closing the fund to new capital. "The region has been the fastest growing developing market in the world outside of China, and we have a strong, experienced, local team in the region. We are very pleased with investor interest in this strategy."
Happy Wednesday. We now return to our regularly scheduled program of spring.
Changes to census questions will make it impossible to gauge the effects of Obamacare accurately, which you might imagine has some folks pretty steamed. (New York Post)
Bill Ackman wants the world to have a better understanding of why people act the way they do.
Harvard University announced Monday that The Pershing Square Foundation, founded by hedge fund manager Ackman and his wife, Karen, who are both alums, awarded the school $17 million to establish three endowed professorships and establish a $5 million research venture fund for Harvard faculty and students, according to a university press release.
The Ackmans' funding will go toward Harvard's Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative. Its goal is to "drive transformative insights about the psychological, social, economic, and biological mechanisms that influence human behavior, and then help translate that new knowledge into mechanisms for improving human well-being across the world," according a statement by the school.
Major market averages may not have much further to fall before indicating that something considerably worse is in store.
Technical analysis is putting key stock indicators near what Walter Zimmerman, chief market technician at United-ICAP, calls the "must-hold" levels—areas that have not been violated since the March 2009 lows that kicked off the heretofore powerful bull market run.
For the S&P 500, that line in the sand happens at the 1,785 level—just about 2 percent from trading levels at midday Tuesday.
For the Nasdaq, which is receiving more attention since it has suffered the steeper declines and is near a correction drop of 10 percent, the level is around 3,830—about 3.5 percent from the current mark.
Break those points, and Zimmerman warns that a highly uncomfortable time lies ahead for bullish investors.
Here's a scary retirement prediction: 85 percent of public pensions could fail in 30 years.
That's according to the largest hedge fund firm in the world, Bridgewater Associates, which runs $150 billion for pensions and other institutions like endowments and foundations.
Public pensions have just $3 trillion in assets to cover liabilities that will balloon to $10 trillion in future decades, Bridgewater said in a client note last week obtained by USA Today.
To make up the difference, the firm said pensions will need to earn about 9 percent per year on their investments. But Bridgewater estimates pension funds are more likely to make 4 percent. If that's true, the vast majority—85 percent—of retirement systems will run out of money because they will continue to pay out more than they take in.
The report comes as pensions wrestle with what rates of return to assume given their implications on future financial health.
The city of Detroit, for example, has reportedly agreed to increase its pensions' projected return to 6.75 percent on its pension funds, up from 6.25 percent and 6.5 percent, according to a separate USA Today report. The change is part of ongoing pension cut negotiations for the city to exit bankruptcy.
Happy Tuesday. We interrupt our regularly scheduled springtime to bring you ... snow?
Fear not: Even if there are flurries forecast for parts of the Northeast, economists are getting optimistic that the real winter chill has begun to fade. (HeraldNet)
Even in liberal California, most residents there are saying that taxes are just way too high. (Breitbart)
Balestra Capital, the hedge fund firm founded by James Melcher in 1979, is set to lose two senior leaders.
Norman Cerk and Matthew Luckett have decided to resign from the firm on June 30, according to an investor letter obtained by CNBC.com Monday evening.
Cerk and Luckett are co-portfolio managers of Balestra's flagship hedge fund. Cerk joined Balestra in 1997 and is head trader. Luckett joined in 2004 and is responsible for portfolio strategy, research and risk, according to the firm's website.
"Over the last few months, it became increasingly clear that we need a single voice and vision regarding the future of the Firm and the portfolio management of Balestra Capital Partners," the letter said. Melcher will resume serving as the sole portfolio manager for the fund. Balestra managed $1.64 billion as of Jan. 1, according to a regulatory filing.
A spokeswoman for Balestra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A senior investment banker at Barclays is set to leave following a combined 17 years at the bank and the one it acquired, Lehman Brothers.
Larry Wieseneck, now head of global distribution and structuring at Barclays, will depart in June to "pursue other interests," according to an internal memo sent to employees today that was obtained by CNBC.com.
Economic growth has picked up as business activity thaws out from a frigid winter, Jim Paulsen told CNBC on Monday.
Two top Wall Streeters are mired in a domestic tiff that's led to one arrest. The NY Post reports.
The S&P 500 should deliver a double-digit return in 2014, fund manager Ed Keon told CNBC.