August 18, 2020

Stock market volatility hits Norway’s sovereign wealth fund

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Norway’s Central Bank on Tuesday said its pension fund lost 188 billion kroner ( 21 billion dollars equivalent) in the first half of 2020 amid stock market volatility during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank said the return on the sovereign wealth fund fell by 3.4 per cent during the January-to-June period.

The Deputy Chief Executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, Trond Grande, said there were major fluctuations in the equity market.

“The year started with optimism, but the outlook of the equity market quickly turned when the coronavirus started to spread globally.

“The sharp decline in global stock markets during the first quarter is, however, limited by a massive monetary and financial policy response.

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“Even though markets recovered well in the second quarter, we are still witnessing considerable uncertainty,’’ Grande said.

The Government Pension Fund Global, as it is formally called had a value of 10.4 trillion kroner at the end of June.

The fund, one of the world’s largest placed almost 70 per cent of its investments in equities and owned shares in about 9,200 companies at the end of June, including technology giants like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.

Norges Bank, however, noted that technology firms were the best performers in the fund’s portfolio during the period, while oil and gas companies and banking groups were the weakest.

Meanwhile, Parliament approved setting up the fund in 1990 to invest income from the country’s petroleum and gas sectors. It also invests in bonds and real estate. (dpa/NAN)