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FUTURES PORTFOLIO FUND L.P. - 10-Q - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

August 14, 2014

Results of Operations

During the second quarter of 2014, the Fund purchased $58.5 million of Class I shares of the Steben Managed Futures Strategy Fund ("SMFF"). SMFF is a non-diversified series of shares of beneficial interest of Steben Alternative Investment Fund (the "Trust"), a statutory trust organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, and is registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the "1940 Act"), as an open-end management investment company. SMFF has a similar investment strategy to the Fund, except that it uses a total return swap with Deutsche Bank AG to obtain access to the returns of select commodity trading advisors. By using the swap agreement, the Fund was able to take advantage of lower CTA fees at lower investment levels.

The returns for each Class of Units for the six months ended June 30, 2014 and 2013 were: Class of Units 2014 2013 Class A (0.11 )% (4.52 )% Class B 0.79 % (3.66 )% Class I 1.34 % (3.46 )%

Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Class I Units were introduced on June 1, 2012. Further analysis of the trading gains and losses is provided below.

2014 January

January saw a broad flight to safety, sparked by a sharp sell-off in emerging market currencies, as investors worried about the impact of Fed tapering and weak Chinese manufacturing on emerging economies. This heightened risk aversion quickly spread to developed markets, which saw declines in equity indices and rallies in bonds, gold and safe haven currencies. Meanwhile, in energy markets, natural gas prices surged due to freezing temperatures across the U.S.

January saw a reversal of many of the most profitable trends from the fourth quarter of 2013, resulting in negative performance for the Fund's trend-following programs. In equity markets, the Fund's long positions in the S&P 500 and Nikkei saw losses as global indices fell sharply. Although the Fund has historically been non-correlated to stocks over the long run, in the short term it can have positive or negative correlation depending on whether existing equity trends cause the Fund to be positioned long or short. In currencies, the Fund's short Japanese yen position suffered as the exchange rate appreciated on safe haven buying. The Fund did make gains in interest rates, where long positions in European and Japanese bonds benefited from fund flows into fixed income markets. In agricultural commodities, the Fund also profited from the continued bearish trend in wheat. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a loss, with Class A Units down 3.50%, Class B Units down 3.36%, and Class I Units down 3.28%.


In February, global equities rallied despite weakness in economic data caused by inclement weather. New Fed Chair Janet Yellen reassured investors that interest rate hikes would be unlikely in the current environment and that the gradual tapering of bond purchases would remain contingent on sustained labor market improvement. This relatively dovish stance raised bond prices and weakened the U.S. dollar. Energy prices surged during the month as unusually cold temperatures boosted demand in the U.S., while the escalating crisis in Ukraine threatened to disrupt European supply channels.

The Fund made its largest gains from rising equity markets through a range of long positions in U.S. and European indices. Additionally, the Fund profited from long positions in global bonds, which rallied on continued accommodative policy guidance from central banks. Long positions in natural gas and crude oil also benefited the Fund as energy prices moved higher. However, the metals sector caused losses as a rebound in gold and silver on U.S. dollar weakness hurt the Fund's short positions. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a gain, with Class A Units up 2.09%, Class B Units up 2.24%, and Class I Units up 2.32%.


March was a choppy month in equity and energy markets, due to the Russia/Ukraine crisis and as China saw its first domestic corporate bond default in a sign of slowing growth. In the U.S., Fed Chair Yellen stirred up fixed income and currency markets by initially suggesting that interest rates hikes might come sooner than expected, then later backtracking on those comments.


The Fund made gains in currencies during the month from long positions in the New Zealand dollar, which rallied as that country became the first developed market to raise interest rates in the current cycle. The agricultural sector was also profitable, with the Fund capitalizing on rising price trends in soybeans (due to poor weather in Brazil) and in lean hogs (due to a disease outbreak in the U.S.). However, uncertainty over both the health of China's economy and the timing of Fed tightening caused whipsaw market action in global stocks, oil markets and U.S. bonds, which generated losses for trend-following strategies in those sectors. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a loss, with Class A Units down 2.17%, Class B Units down 2.02%, and Class I Units down 1.93%.


In April, equities initially sold off amid concerns over stock valuations and weak economic numbers. Optimism returned and global equities rallied mid-month with the Fed calming fears, stating that they remained committed to supportive monetary policy and noting than the recent weather-induced U.S. growth slowdown would be short-lived. Meanwhile, risks of deflation in Europe led to speculation that the ECB might resort to quantitative easing. In contrast, UK unemployment dipped below the Bank of England's 7% threshold, prompting speculation that the BOE may begin raising interest rates. Tension surrounding Ukraine and sanctions on Russia drove many commodity markets higher on fears of supply disruptions.

The Fund recorded its largest gains in the interest rate sector where long positions benefited from risk aversion and potential quantitative easing in Europe fueling demand for bonds. The Fund also made profits in commodities, particularly through long positions in natural gas and soybeans. In currencies, gains were made from long positions in the British pound which rose to four year highs on speculation over interest rate hikes. However, this was offset by losses due to a reversal in the Japanese yen. The Fund saw its largest losses in equities due to an early sell off in stock indices, which then caused the Fund to cut its long positions and prevented it from fully benefiting from the market rebound going into month-end. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a loss, with Class A Units down 0.28%, Class B Units down 0.13%, and Class I Units down 0.05%.


In May, global bond markets rallied as 10-year yields fell to 1.4% in Germany and 2.5% in the U.S. In Europe, this move was driven by investor expectations of a near term interest rate cut and potential future quantitative easing by the European Central Bank to counteract weak economic growth and deflationary risks. Meanwhile in the U.S., Fed Chair Janet Yellen expressed concern over a weak housing recovery, suggesting the Fed could keep interest rates low for longer than previously anticipated. Equity markets interpreted these signals of continued easy monetary policy in a positive light, leading to gains in most developed market stock indices. Volatility in many asset classes continued to decline in May towards historic lows, as exemplified by the VIX index, which fell to the pre-crisis levels of 2007.

The Fund was well positioned to profit from the key moves in fixed income and equities during the month. The bulk of returns came from long positions in bonds, in particular the U.S. 10-year, the U.S. long bond and the Euro Bund. In equities, the largest gains came from a short position in VIX futures and a long position in the Eurostoxx 50. Agricultural commodities had a small giveback as upward trending grain prices reversed on improved weather and harvest prospects. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a gain, with Class A Units up 3.29%, Class B Units up 3.45%, and Class I Units up 3.53%.


In June, equity markets continued to set record highs as the Federal Reserve reiterated its dovish policy stance in light of a weaker U.S. growth outlook. Meanwhile European fixed income markets rallied as the European Central Bank imposed negative deposit rates to stem deflation and encourage bank lending. Only the Bank of England gave any indication that it could soon begin to raise interest rates, which led to further strengthening in the British pound. Violence escalated in the Middle East, as the militant ISIS group seized key regions in Iraq, pushing up oil prices on fears of a supply disruption.

The Fund recorded its largest gains for the month in long equity positions. The portfolio also capitalized on rising energy prices with its long oil positions. The Fund profited in currency trading, particularly in the British pound, which rose on signals of a tightening bias at the Bank of England. However, short positions in gold and silver lost money, as demand climbed for these safe haven assets on fears of a full-blown civil war in Iraq. In agricultural markets, long soybean positions were hurt as prices fell with U.S. farmers planting a record crop. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a gain, with Class A Units up 0.62%, Class B Units up 0.77%, and Class I Units up 0.90%.

2013 January

Spurred on by the resolution of the U.S. "fiscal cliff" negotiations, markets began 2013 with a strong risk appetite. This led to a rally in global equities and industrial commodities and caused a sell-off in safe haven bonds. In Europe, investors gained confidence that the region's sovereign debt crisis had been contained, helping the euro strengthen against other currencies. Meanwhile, Japan's new government implemented a stimulus program consisting of major fiscal spending, coupled with measures to weaken the yen to help the country's exporters.


The Fund started the year on a positive note, as it profited from long positions in stock indices and energy, as well as short positions in the Japanese yen. These gains were partially offset by losses from long fixed income positions, as bond yields and interest rates climbed during the month. Overall, the Fund returned a gain for the month, with Class A Units up 2.20%, Class B Units up 2.35%, and Class I Units up 2.25%.


Although February began with a continuation of January's risk-seeking market trends, the second half of the month saw "risk-off" price reversals across many sectors. Weak European data signaled a region-wide economic contraction. The UK suffered a credit rating downgrade as it is on the verge of a triple-dip recession. Meanwhile, Italian voters toppled the country's incumbent government with an election result that repudiated austerity as a means of managing Europe's sovereign debt crisis. In the U.S., minutes from the most recent Fed meeting hinted at a sooner than expected slowdown of monetary stimulus, frightening investors who anticipated longer term quantitative easing.

The Fund entered February with "risk-on" exposures in many of the markets it trades, including long positions in equities, industrial commodities, the euro and high-yielding currencies. February's market reversals caused losses in a number of these positions. The largest losses came from energy, as oil prices fell late in the month on concerns over global demand as well as U.S. supply hitting a 20-year high due to shale fracking. In currencies, the decline of the euro detracted from performance. The Fund did however make gains in fixed income with long positions in U.S. bonds. In the agricultural sector, easing drought conditions in the Midwest lowered wheat prices, helping the Fund's short position. In stock indices, the Fund made a small net gain as profits in the U.S. and Asia were offset by losses in Europe. Overall, the Fund finished with a loss for the month, with Class A Units down 1.41%, Class B Units down 1.26%, and Class I Units down 1.18%.


Overall, the Fund returned a gain for the month, with Class A Units up 1.10%, Class B Units up 1.25%, and Class I Units up 1.48%. In March, financial headlines were dominated by the banking crisis in Cyprus. Eurozone members led by Germany made the release of bailout funds contingent on a Cypriot financial contribution through a one-time "tax" on bank deposits. This action sparked protests over the plan's fairness. A last minute compromise deal exempted smaller insured deposits from capital seizure. Investors feared that the Cyprus bailout might create a precedent for haircutting depositors at troubled banks in Spain and Italy. This prompted a sell-off in the euro, a slide in southern European stock markets and a rally in safe haven German bunds. Meanwhile, in the U.S., equities climbed with largely positive economic data and a statement from Fed Chairman Bernanke that he saw no evidence of a stock bubble. In Japan, monetary easing by the Abe government continued, boosting bond and equity markets and depreciating the yen.

The Fund profited in March from long positions in stocks, especially in the U.S. Gains were also made in the currency sector from short positions in the Japanese yen. The Fund was flat in fixed income as gains from being long the German bund were offset by losses due to trend reversals in the U.S. bond market. The contribution of physical commodity markets to the Fund's performance during the month was minimal.


In April, economic data in China confirmed a slowdown in growth, while U.S. GDP estimates for the first quarter were weaker than expected. This led to a sell-off in industrial commodities such as energy and base metals, and a rally in Treasury bonds. The price of gold tumbled mid-month, triggered by reports that Cyprus might sell part of its gold reserves to pay down the country's debt. Furthermore, the current absence of global inflation has reduced the attractiveness of precious metals that are often used as a hedge against inflation. Meanwhile, the Japanese central bank continued its policy of monetary stimulus, further weakening the yen and boosting the Nikkei stock index.

During the month, the Fund profited from its long bond positions, particularly in the U.S., where the fixed income market rallied on disappointing economic growth. The Fund's short positions in gold and copper also made a positive return contribution after the decline in precious and base metals prices. Partly offsetting these gains were losses from long exposures to declining oil markets, as well as from trend reversals in agricultural markets such as corn. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a gain, with Class A Units up 3.11%, Class B Units up 3.26%, and Class I Units up 3.10%.


In May, improving economic data in the U.S. drove stock indices higher, but also prompted the Fed to signal that it might soon taper its quantitative easing program. Fixed income markets reacted negatively to the prospect of a reduction in the Fed's $85 billion in monthly purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities. U.S. 10-year Treasury bond yields jumped 46 basis points from 1.67% to 2.13% during the month, while international bond markets also sold off. Meanwhile in Japan, the high flying Nikkei index, which at one point was up 50% on the year, fell abruptly by 13% over the last 9 days of the month. This was caused by investors taking profits after signs of slowing Chinese growth and impending U.S. monetary tightening.


May proved to be a challenging month for the Fund's trend-following strategies. The majority of losses were a result of sharp declines in global bond markets, particularly in the US and Europe, which hurt the Fund's long positions. The Fund's trading systems responded by cutting back bond positions substantially, standing ready to reposition as new trends emerge, whether bullish or bearish. In the currencies sector, long positions in the Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar detracted from performance, following a surprise interest rate cut in Australia and central bank intervention to weaken the currency in New Zealand. In energy markets, long positions in natural gas suffered as prices declined on higher than expected inventory levels. The Fund did, however, make a profit in equity indices through its long positions across the globe. The Fund was also positive in agricultural commodities, benefitting from a rally in soybeans. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a loss, with Class A Units down 4.97%, Class B Units down 4.83%, and Class I Units down 4.75%.


In June, the Fed reaffirmed its desire to phase out its quantitative easing program as long as U.S. economic data continues to improve. Markets interpreted this as the beginning of the end of an era of ultra-easy monetary policy. As a result, global equities and bonds sold off sharply. Ironically, the largest stock market declines were not in the U.S. Prospective tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve had a greater impact in Europe, where the economic recovery lags the U.S., and in Asia and emerging markets, where a slowdown in China also worried investors. Meanwhile, the Fed's new stance caused gold prices to plummet to levels last seen in 2010, as the risk of inflation due to loose monetary conditions diminished.

The market moves in June were a continuation of the sharp and sudden trend reversals that began at the end of May. These price patterns are particularly difficult for trend-following systems to navigate. The Fund came into June with long exposure to global equities. Although these positions were reduced significantly over the month, the Fund nevertheless saw losses in this sector, particularly in European indices. In currencies, choppy price movements in the euro and British pound sterling against the US dollar were also a detriment to performance. Residual long positions in bonds and interest rates, primarily in Europe, caused losses before positions were closed out. By the end of the month, most of the Fund's trading advisors had systematically moved to net short positions in fixed income instruments. On the positive side, the Fund was able to profit from the downward trend in precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as in industrial metals, such as copper. Overall, the Fund finished the month with a loss, with Class A Units down 4.34%, Class B Units down 4.20%, and Class I Units down 4.12%.


There are no known material trends, demands, commitments, events, or uncertainties at the present time that are reasonably likely to result in the Fund's liquidity increasing or decreasing in any material way.

Capital Resources

The Fund intends to raise additional capital only through the sale of Units, and does not intend to raise any capital through borrowing. Due to the nature of the Fund's business, the Fund does not contemplate making capital expenditures. The Fund does not have, nor does it expect to have, any capital assets. Redemptions, exchanges and sales of Units in the future will affect the amount of funds available for investments in futures contracts, forward currency contracts and other financial instruments in subsequent periods. It is not possible to estimate the amount, and therefore the impact, of future capital inflows and outflows related to the sale and redemption of Units. There are no known or expected material trends, favorable or unfavorable, that would affect the Fund's capital resource arrangements at the present time.

Off-Balance Sheet Risk

The term "off-balance sheet risk" refers to an unrecorded potential liability that, even though it does not appear on the balance sheet, may result in future obligation or loss. The Fund trades in futures and forward currency contracts, and is therefore a party to financial instruments with elements of off-balance sheet market and credit risk. In entering into these contracts there exists a risk to the Fund that such contracts may be significantly influenced by market conditions, such as interest rate volatility, resulting in such contracts being less valuable. If the markets should move against all of the futures interests positions of the Fund at the same time, and if the commodity trading advisors were unable to offset futures interest positions of the Fund, the Fund could lose all of its assets and the limited partners would realize a 100% loss. The General Partner minimizes market risk through diversification of the portfolio allocations to multiple trading advisors, and maintenance of a margin-to-equity ratio that rarely exceeds 30%.

In addition to subjecting the Fund to market risk, upon entering into futures, swaps, and forward currency contracts there is a risk that the counterparty will not be able to meet its obligations to the Fund. The counterparty for futures contracts traded in the U.S. and on most foreign exchanges is the clearinghouse associated with such exchange. In general, clearinghouses are backed by the corporate members of the clearinghouse who are required to share any financial burden resulting from the non-performance by one of their members and, as such, should significantly reduce this risk. In cases where the clearinghouse is not backed by the clearing members, as is the case with some foreign exchanges, it is normally backed by a consortium of banks or other financial institutions.


In the case of forward currency contracts, which are traded on the interbank market rather than on exchanges, the counterparty is generally a single bank or other financial institution, rather than a group of financial institutions, thus there may be a greater counterparty risk. In the case of a swap agreement, the counterparty is a single bank. The General Partner uses only those counterparties that it believes to be creditworthy for the Fund. All positions of the Fund are valued each day on a mark-to-market basis. There can be no assurance, however, that any clearing member, clearinghouse or other counterparty will be able to meet its obligations to the Fund.

The Fund invests in U.S. Treasury securities, U.S. and foreign government sponsored enterprise notes, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and corporate notes. Should an issuing entity default on its obligation to the Fund and such entity is not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, the Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received. The Fund minimizes this risk by only investing in securities and certificates of deposit of firms with high quality debt ratings.

Significant Accounting Estimates

A summary of the Fund's significant accounting policies are included in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements.

The Fund's most significant accounting policy is the valuation of its assets invested in U.S. and foreign futures and forward currency contracts, and fixed income instruments. The Fund's futures contracts are exchange-traded, with the fair value of these contracts based on exchange settlement prices. The fair values of non-exchange-traded contracts, such as forward currency contracts, are based on third-party quoted dealer values on the interbank market. The fair value of money market funds is based quoted market prices for identical shares. U.S. Treasury securities are stated at fair value based on quoted market prices for identical assets in an active market. Notes of U.S. and foreign government sponsored enterprises, as well as certificates of deposit, commercial paper and corporate notes, are stated at fair value based on quoted market prices for similar assets in an active market. Given the valuation sources, there is little judgment or uncertainty involved in the valuation of these assets, and it is unlikely that materially different amounts would be reported under different valuation methodologies or assumptions.

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Source: Edgar Glimpses

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