Hedge funds post modest rise in September, still lag stock market: HFR

October 7, 2016 4:53 PM EDT

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Hedge fund returns inched ahead in September to finish their strongest quarter of the year, new data released on Friday showed, but they are still lagging the broader stock market's gains.

The average hedge fund gained 0.62 percent in September, leaving it up 4.2 percent for the first nine months of 2016, research firm Hedge Fund Research said. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index has climbed 7.8 percent this year.

With stock markets rebounding in the last weeks, many hedge funds boasted relatively strong returns in September. Daniel Loeb's Third Point climbed 1.1 percent, while Citadel's Wellington fund gained 2 percent, and Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners returned 2 percent, the funds told investors. That leaves Third Point up 7.2 percent for the year, while Citadel is up 2.6 percent and Jana Partners trimmed its losses to 1.1 percent.

Hedge fund returns have drawn particular scrutiny in recent months as some large investors, including pension funds in Rhode Island and New Jersey, are pulling money out, complaining about lackluster returns and high fees. Poor performance has also forced some firms, including most recently Richard Perry's Perry Capital, out of business.

As a group, hedge funds gained 3 percent during the third quarter with some, like Citadel which surged 7.3 percent, scoring even bigger gains. They gained 1.8 percent during the second quarter after a 0.60 percent loss for the first three months of the year.

Funds concentrating on technology and healthcare performed the best last month, notching 4 percent gains, HFR said. But as a group they suffered heavy losses at the start of the year and are up just 3.22 percent for the first nine months of 2016.

But for some funds, September was a tough month. David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital saw its gains for the year shrink to 4.5 percent after losing nearly 1 percent in September and Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings fell 5.3 percent last month leaving the fund down 18.8 percent for the year, investor documents seen by Reuters show.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio)

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