Norwegian stock market soars

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The Norwegian stock market (Oslo Børs) is toasting its best year since 2009, after the Benchmark Index rose 23.6 percent in 2013. Healthcare and IT companies were the star players, banking and insurance also performed well, while the end of year oil price remained steady in line with last year’s result.

PHOTO: Oslo Børs/Stein Henningsen

Norway’s Stock Exchange had its best year since 2009, with the Benchmark Index, OBX and bond market performing strongly. PHOTO: Oslo Børs/Stein Henningsen

2013 was also the best year since 2009 for the OBX index, which represents the stock exchange’s 25 most traded shares. It rose 22.7 percent. The OBX has now soared a full 223.4 percent from its lowest point during the global financial crisis in 2008.

The main index surpassed its historic 524.37 high of July 19, 2007 in October this year. It hit record peaks nine times in 2013, and the last trading day’s closing price of 548.86 was the second highest ever.

Key performers
The healthcare index fared best, gaining 96.6 percent this year. The increase was largely driven by a meteoric 131.8 percent rise in nuclear medicine and oncology drug company Algeta’s share price. IT was the next strongest performer among the sector indicies. Opera Software was the main contributor to the sector’s 66.3 percent gain. The financials index gained 49.5 per cent.

The bond market continues to grow and run at record highs, as new issue activity steadily increases. Not including government borrowing, NOK 246 billion (USD 40.5 billion) was raised in the first 11 months of 2013. This was NOK 24 billion lower than 2012’s record year. The stock exchange attributed the growing bonds market to changes in banking. Finance institutions are stepping back from heavy investments in business and industry, forcing companies to use stocks and securities to raise needed loan capital.

Daily share trades averaged at 73,000, and the average daily value of transactions was NOK 3.5 billion. Share trading activity shot up in autumn, after a sluggish start to the year and moderate trade volumes over summer.

Derivatives increased in 2013, in line with the increase in share trading turnover. The average daily number of derivatives contracts increased to 47,000, up from 43,100 last year. OBX Index options also grew steadily.

Weaker sectors
The materials sector was the only index in the red in 2013, falling slightly by 1.65 percent. Utilities recorded the smallest amount of growth, at 5.6 percent. The energy index grew by just 10 percentDespite oil prices sitting at historically high levels, 2013’s flat performance curtailed oil shares. The oil price closed at the same level as last year.

High activity, less fluctuation
The Oslo Børs was the most active of the Nordic stock exchanges this year. It had the most new listings with 12 companies joining its marketplace, compared to a total 17 new listings across the other Nordic exchanges. Its companies were also much more active in terms of using the capital market, raising NOK 20 billion in new share capital. That’s a NOK 1.5 billion increase on 2012.

The exchange has provided much more stable returns in recent years. In an analysis of share prices since 1995, the Oslo Børs found less variation with longer gaps between “extreme” years, where share prices shot up by more than 40 percent.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate