Norway’s giant oil fund said that it earned 15.9 percent, or about $115 billion, on its investments last year, profiting from big bets on American and European stocks that offset losses in government bonds from around the world. It raised the holdings of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund to a value of about $840 billion.
Norway, while a small country in terms of population, has saved a large cushion, about $170,000 for each of its roughly five million citizens, in case of hard times or falling oil prices. While most of the Gulf oil states also have large funds, some other oil producers, including Britain, have chosen to use their oil income for current expenditure.
The Norwegian fund said that it held an average stake of 2.5 percent in all European listed stocks and 1.3 percent in stocks across the globe.
The fund’s rules limit its holdings in any company to no more than 10 percent of equity. But so far it has remained well below those limits. At the end of the year, the fund’s largest stock position was a 2.7 percent stake worth about $6.5 billion in the Swiss food giant Nestlé, followed by a roughly $5 billion holding in Royal Dutch Shell, a roughly 2 percent stake.