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Norway's massive sovereign wealth fund posts weak gains

The world's largest sovereign wealth fund gained 2.7 percent on its investments last year, the weakest return in four years. The fund has divested from environmentally destructive companies.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund ended last year with assets of 796 billion euros ($874 billion) despite the global market turmoil, the Nordic country's central bank said on Wednesday.

The fund gained 35 billion euros ($39 billion), the lowest return since 2011.

"2015 was a volatile year, with negative interest rates, currency turmoil, falling oil prices and weaker growth expectations for emerging markets," said Yngve Slyngstad, the head of the fund.

"We have seen fluctuations in the fund's return from quarter to quarter, but overall a satisfying result," he added.

Norway invests money earned from offshore oil and gas in the fund, which holds stock in more than 9,000 companies and amounts to 1.3 of global market capitalization.

The fund's portfolio consists of 61.2 percent stocks, 3.1 real estate and 35.7 percent bonds.

Last year the government passed legislation requiring the fund to divest from companies heavily involved in coal that contribute global warming. The fund also pulled out of 11 companies due to concern over the destruction of tropical forests.

The fund's value changes depending on investment returns, currency fluctuations and money deposited from state oil revenue.

Due to the collapse in oil prices and drop in state revenue Norway is expected for the first time in the fund's 20-year history to withdraw more money that it deposits in 2016.

The state can take up to four percent from the fund to balance its budget.

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cw/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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