Norway’s oil fund fends off Brexit to post positive return

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, posted a positive return on Wednesday for the second quarter, despite market pressure from Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Norway's oil fund fends off Brexit to post positive return
Trond Grande, deputy chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management, presented the results in Oslo on Wednesday. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
The fund registered a return of 1.3 percent, or 94 billion kroner ($11.5 billion, €10 billion), putting its value at 7.18 trillion kroner ($876 billion, €777 billion) at the end of the quarter, the central bank said on Wednesday.
Real estate, which represented 3.1 percent of the portfolio, dragged the fund down, posting a negative return of 1.4 percent.
Shares, which accounted for 59.6 percent of the fund's portfolio, and fixed income, which represented 37.4 percent, performed better posting returns of 0.7 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.
Trond Grande, deputy chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management said: “After a period of relatively stable markets at the beginning of the quarter, the British decision to leave the EU sparked a sharp decline in Europe.
“Markets recovered relatively quickly, but with major variations between sectors. Financials, for example, performed weakly.”
The fund registered a negative return of 0.6 percent in the first quarter losing some 100 million euros every day, or 85 billion kroner ($10.4 billion, €9.2 billion) for the period.
“The fund's fixed-income investments received price gains due to falling interest rates. In the long term, however, lower interest rates have negative implications for future returns on the fixed-income portfolio,” said Grande.
Norway's government took more money out of the fund than it put in for the second time in the fund's 20-year existence, syphoning off 24 billion kroner to balance its budget.
The withdrawal aimed to compensate the state's declining oil revenues, caused by lower oil price.
However weakening in the kroner against other currencies meant that the fund gained 28 billion kroner in the second quarter alone — offsetting the government's withdrawals.

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