Norway’s huge sovereign wealth and pension fund that’s fueled by the country’s oil revenues reported record results for last year. Commentators quickly reported that the money earned on the so-called Oil Fund amounted to more than NOK 194,000 (USD 25,000) per Norwegian.
The actual returns on the fund hit 13.7 percent, according to the annual report for 2017 released on Tuesday morning, and amounted to a dizzying NOK 1,028 billion. The earnings on Norway’s proverbial piggy bank were the best ever measured in the country’s own currency, and the highest in the history of the fund that was set up in 1996 to preserve oil wealth for future generations.
Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of the central bank unit that manages the Oil Fund, noted that fully a fourth of the fund’s total earnings since its founding were thus earned just last year. He called 2017 “a very strong year for the fund,” with returns on its investments in stock markets abroad averaging nearly 20 percent.
The Norwegian krone also weakened against several major currencies during the year, boosting the value of the fund by NOK 15 billion when measured in local currency.
The annual report from Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the fund, noted that returns on stock market investments averaged 19.4 percent while returns on real estate investments amounted to 7.5 percent and fixed-income investments yielded 3.3 percent. All returns were higher than the benchmark index, by a 0.7 percentage point.
The total value of the fund rose by NOK 978 billion last year to NOK 8,488 billion as of December 31. It’s slipped since, to NOK 8,267 billion at one point on Tuesday, following the recent stock market decline but remains well above the historic US dollar level surpassed last autumn of USD 1 trillion.