The average hedge fund inched up 0.72 percent in May and is up 3.89 percent for the year through the end of May, according to data released on Friday that show the funds outperforming the broader stock index.

Hedge funds specializing in health care and technology delivered some of the strongest gains, rising 3.54 percent in May, according to data from Hedge Fund Research. For the year they are up 8.50 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 1.75 percent in the first five months of the year.

Even though many investors feel the multi-year bull market may soon end, hedge funds that specialize in short-selling, or betting that securities will fall, dipped 0.50 last month and are down 2.73 percent for the year, the HFR data show.

Since hedge funds generally do not release their performance data publicly, investors pay close attention to how some of the industry's biggest players are performing to get a sense of where the smart money is moving.

In May, Tiger Global Management gained 2.8 percent, putting it up 0.4 percent for the year, while hedge fund Hound Capital rose 5.3 percent and is up 13.4 percent, investors in the fund said. Viking Global Investors scored a 2.2 percent rise last month to be up 5.5 percent for the year through the end of May, an investor said.

Daniel Loeb's Third Point rose 1.9 percent in May and is up 5.7 percent for the year, while Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management inched up 0.5 percent in May to be up 6.8 percent for the year to date, an investor in the funds said.