Hedge funds betting on Chinese equities surged last year, standouts in an industry that struggled to outsmart the longest-running bull market in history.

A number of funds focused on mainland stocks posted double-digit returns in 2019, according to people familiar with the matter and investor letters seen by Bloomberg.

Star performers included Greenwoods Asset Management’s $2.2 billion Golden China Fund, which surged 47.3%, and Orchid Asia Group Management Ltd.’s China Master Fund, which gained 32.2%.

Easing U.S.-China trade tensions helped the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock indexes post double-digit returns last year. That boosted hedge funds focused on Greater China, which jumped 18% on average, according to data provider Eurekahedge. That compared with a gain of about 9% for their global peers, according to the Bloomberg All Hedge Fund Index.

“Accommodative central bank policies and optimism towards the progress of the U.S.-China trade negotiation definitely played a part in the strong performance of China’s equity markets last year,” said Nicky Indradi, an analyst at Eurekahedge.

Greenwoods benefited from consumer and e-commerce stocks last year, also enjoying a 58% gain in its China A-shares fund, said the people familiar, who asked not to be identified because the numbers aren’t public. That and the firm’s Golden China performance are estimates.

Alibaba Bet

Among Greenwoods’s winners were Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., with a position worth about $725 million in the third quarter, a 13-F filing showed. It also held Singapore’s Sea Ltd., the Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed technology company that saw its stock price triple last year.

The Orchid China Master Fund’s surge included a 2.7% gain last month, according to an investor letter seen by Bloomberg. The fund, overseen by Edmond Wong in Hong Kong, focuses on consumer, technology, healthcare and education stocks. It has about $280 million of assets. Firmwide, Orchid manages just under $4 billion of hedge funds and private equity funds.

Dantai Capital Ltd.’s China-focused hedge fund jumped almost 38% last year, according to an investor letter seen by Bloomberg. It was net long 36% at the end of December, the letter said.

Greenwoods, Orchid and Dantai declined to comment.

--With assistance from Bei Hu.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.