``The average hedge fund inched up 0.31 percent in March and is now up 1.99 percent for the year, data from Hedge Fund Research show. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 stock index ended the first three months up 5.43 percent even though it slipped 0.10 percent last month. In the first two months of 2011, hedge funds climbed 2.08 percent, lagging the Standard & Poor's 5.53 percent rise... Many hedge funds were caught off guard by the natural disasters in Japan and the crisis in the Middle East at the start of the month, industry experts said.''

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