Hedge funds posted about $74 billion of outflows last month — the second-highest amount ever — but the losses are likely to slow as the funds' assets continue to shrink, according to TrimTabs Investment Research Inc.

Though many investors got caught in a bear-market trap after gains early last month, more selling could be in the cards, especially if the Standard & Poor's 500 drops below the 12-month low it set Nov. 20, TrimTabs said last week.

Hedge fund investors have taken out $315 billion since September, the Sausalito, Calif., firm said. However, it expects outflows to taper off this month, primarily because the funds' asset base has shrunk by half in the past eight months.

Even though investors headed for the exits last month, the average hedge fund posted a return of 0.3%.

The outflow estimates are based on a survey of 39% of all hedge funds, TrimTabs said.

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