The SG CTA Index was up by 0.42%, whilst the SG Trend Index was up by 0.81%. Short term strategies struggled and underperformed other strategies, with the SG STTI down by 1.19% for the month. The SG Trend Indicator attributed February’s positive results to gains in currencies and a selection of commodity markets, as well as trends in interest rate markets. Long positions in bond markets reverted slightly, leading to small losses, whilst positions in equity markets began to adapt to the renewed upward trend. “We’ve seen an uptick of performance in February, and we maintain the benefits CTA strategies can have in diversified portfolios. It will be interesting to observe if CTAs can continue this upward trend as we look towards March and the rest of the year,” says Tom Wrobel, director of alternative investments consulting at Societe Generale Prime Services.
Once again, it’s that time of year when our editorial staff dust off the infamous Profit & Loss crystal ball in order to take a peek into the future and tell our readers what they should expect from the year ahead. Colin Lambert’s “Trade of the Year” makes a welcome return, and he’s back with a bang as he focuses on the drivers of the ever-popular NOK/MXN pair. As has become custom, Lambert is also predicting consolidation within the FX industry, but regular readers might just be surprised to find out that for once he doesn’t think that the M&A activity will be on the platform side this year.
Managed futures stumbled out of the gate to start 2019, as the Barclay CTA Index, compiled by BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions, was down 0.43% for January .All but two of the BarclayHedge’s managed futures indices were in negative territory for January, as CTA funds were generally unable to build on their modest gains of the final two months of 2018.“After precipitous price declines in December, most CTAs found themselves on the wrong side of the street in January as energy and equity prices unexpectedly rose from the ashes of the previous month and rebounded sharply,” says Sol Waksman, president of BarclayHedge.
Following an initial positive run in the first few days of the year, all CTAs in the Societe Generale (SG) Indices were in negative territory by the end of January. The SG Trend Index was down 3.25% and the SG Short-Term Traders Index was down 1.71%. The SG CTA Index returned -1.99% despite being helped slightly by three non-trend following managers’ positive performances during the month.The SG Trend Indicator attributed losses to equity markets and currencies. They were positioned short in risk assets, hence equity markets’ reversal and gains in one of their best Januarys ever, contributed to losses of 3.91% at the portfolio level.
A new report from RCM Alternatives highlights the struggles of Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) in 2018.The report, Managed Futures/Global Macro 2018 Strategy Review, notes that last year was generally a disappointing one for managed futures and global macro across most strategy groups. This is perhaps surprising, given that there were significant sell-offs in the equities markets in 2018, which is when the diversification benefits of having CTAs in the portfolio is supposed to be felt.
As the report explains: “With equities getting hit hard, this was a prime opportunity for CTAs, managed futures and macro to come off the mat and show investors the power of diversification. Instead, the lesson was that sometimes non-correlation does not equal negative correlation, especially in the short term.”
There’s something for everyone in this week’s In the FICC of It podcast as Colin Lambert and Galen Stops traverse the US legal system, trading, crypto and China.
Listen in as Lambert explains why he is mystified at the prosecution’s flip-flop in the Mark Johnson case and angry at the FX industry’s previous lack of effort to explain how markets work to the US legal authorities; and Stops takes a look at a new report n his favourite industry – CTAs. Having had the data explained to him, Lambert also thinks he knows why some CTA sectors are doing well and some aren’t, so that’s another of his “theories” then…
Our podcasters then move onto debate whether crypto markets will evolve to an OTC model and whether this would be a good thing for attracting institutional money to what is still a relatively nascent market.
Stops closes out by reporting from an analysts’ briefing this week that highlighted a change in approach on the part of China to its programme of liberalisation of the yuan.
Currency trading was one of the few bright spots for CTA performance last year, according to new data from BarclayHedge, now a division of Backstop Solutions.While the Barclay CTA Index was down 2.85% for 2018, the Currency Traders Index was up 5.1% for the year, and the Discretionary Traders Index gained 2.01%.These, however, were the only two indices to post positive returns for the year.
Indices posting losses on the year were led by the Cryptocurrency Traders Index, which was down 63.24% through December. The MPI Barclay Elite Systematic Traders Index was down 5.12% for the year, the Diversified Traders Index declined 4.71%, the Systematic Traders Index dropped 4.16%, the Fin./Met. Traders Index was down 3.20%, and the Agricultural Traders Index was down 0.27%.
The flash estimate for the Barclay CTA Index, compiled by BarclayHedge indicates a small profit of 0.01% in November. Year to date, the Index is down 3.00%.
“Although the November return for the Index was right at zero percent, the dispersion of returns of the underlying funds was quite large, ranging from a high of plus 30.74 percent to a low of minus 40.40 percent,” says Sol Waksman, founder and president of BarclayHedge.
Eight of the nine Barclay Managed Futures indices had a negative return in November. Cryptocurrency Traders fell 22.64%, MPI Barclay Elite Systematic Traders lost 1.64%, Agricultural Traders were down 0.50%, and Discretionary Traders lost 0.25%.
Backstop Solutions Group, a cloud-based CRM provider for institutional and alternative investors, is set to acquire BarclayHedge, which produces alternative investment data and indices. In a release issued today, BackStop says that adding BarclayHedge to its portfolio of acquired companies represents a significant step in its long-term vision of a productivity suite for institutional and alternative investors. “With proprietary access to the 2,200 alternative investment managers and 6,900 funds tracked by BarclayHedge, Backstop will be able to offer institutional clients a unique combination of technology, tools, services and data to help optimise their research management and due diligence workflows. Alternative asset managers who currently report to BarclayHedge will also benefit by having their exposure to asset owners potentially triple when the client communities of both Backstop and BarclayHedge are combined,” it says in the release.
Following a difficult October, CTAs continued to face challenges in November as the SG CTA Index was down 1.09% and the SG Trend Index was down 1.75%. Year-to-date, the SG CTA Index is down 7.18%.
However, the SG Trend Indicator outperformed the Trend Index as it was up 2.51%. This was driven by gains in commodity markets especially from short positions in the energy sector.
Apart from the uplift in commodities, trend following strategies struggled in other sectors with losses in currencies and equities. There were strong reversals against established trends in particular in Australian and New Zealand dollar. Furthermore, trends in bond markets continued to be mixed, as the new upward momentum brought the recent downward trend to an end.