UPDATE 1-Och-Ziff fund finishes 2010 up 8.4 percent

NEW YORK Tue Jan 4, 2011 12:49pm EST

NEW YORK Jan 4 (Reuters) - Hedge fund firm Och Ziff Capital Management (OZM.N) said on Tuesday its flagship Master fund returned 8.44 percent last year, beating the performance of rival hedge funds on average, but still short of the stock market's gains.

The New York-based fund, one of the few publicly traded hedge fund groups, said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that its funds all saw slight gains in December and its estimated assets under management remained about $27.6 billion at the end of December.

Based on the firm's estimates, the Och-Ziff Master fund finished the year up 8.44 percent, its Europe Master Fund was up 7.23 percent, the Asia Master Fund climbed 10.09 percent and the Global Special Investments Master Fund rose 13.2 percent.

The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX finished the year up 12.78 percent, while the average hedge fês#

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