Oslo stocks take another beating

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The Oslo Stock Exchange returned from the long holiday pinse weekend to face another round of steep losses on Tuesday. Its main index was down 4.67 percent by mid-afternoon, and young investors seem to have lost interest in the market.

The Oslo Børs lost 10 percent of its value last week and analysts had hoped for some recovery. It wasn’t coming on the first trading day of this week. The index was down 16 points, to 328.13, at 1:30pm. It ended the day at 331.77, down 3.61 percent.

Erik Bruce, chief economist at Nordea Markets, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he hesitated to use the word “panic,” but conceded there is “great unease in the markets.” Bruce noted that not only the stock markets are plunging around the world, but other markets as well, which had shown signs of recovery after the global finance crisis set in during 2008.

He linked Tuesday’s declines in Oslo to heavy losses on Asian stock exchanges during the night. Other analysts point to unease over escalating tensions between North and South Korea, and fears that southern European countries still won’t be able to meet their debt obligations, despite recent bailout plans.

Norwegian stocks have held up in the country’s oil-driven economy but oil prices have also been falling. Tuesday’s decline was greater than declines on other European stock markets, with London down 2.9 percent, Paris down 2.7 percent and Frankfurt down 3 percent at midday.

Losing favour among the young
Meanwhile, newspaper Aftenposten reported on Tuesday that young adults in Norway have lost interest in the stock market and aren’t nearly as active investors as they once were. Statistics from the Oslo Stock Exchange indicate the typical Norwegian shareholder is rapidly getting older.

The amount of private investors aged 30-39 on the Oslo exchange fell from 57,732 in 2002 to just 47,682 last year. Those aged 18-29 were down from 25,917 to 24,442, while even middle-aged investors were in decline. Those aged 50-59 fell from 86,416 to 70,364.

The only age groups that increased were those aged 60-80 (up from 103,867 to 107,285) and those over age 80. The total number of private investors on the Oslo exchange fell from 371,431 to 346,341.

“I think many people are worried about the stock market,” said Morten Fylkesnes, a finance student at business college BI in Oslo. “Folks hear that their neighbour lost money, and are more cautions about investing and taking risks themselves.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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