NORWAY – The Petroleum Fund has grown to 915.3 billion crowns (111.2 billion euros), following a return of 2.9% in the first quarter.

The 70 billion-crown rise was partly due to 22 billion crowns of new capital, a 26 billion-crown return in the capital markets and 22 billion crowns in currency effects.

“The return on the government Petroleum Fund in the first quarter of 2004 was 2.9% measured in terms of the currency basket that corresponds to the composition of the Fund’s benchmark portfolio,” the fund said.

The ordinary portfolio outperformed the benchmark portfolio defined by the Ministry of Finance by 0.24 points.

It said: “There was an upswing in all three global equity markets, and the return on the equity portfolio was 3.8%. The return on the fixed income portfolio was 2.2%.”

The annual net real return on the fund since January 1 1997 has been 3.84%.

The fund added that during the first quarter is transferred fixed income capital to managers with new mandates. “Insight Investment Management and European Credit Management have been allocated mandates for investment in Europe.”

On the equities side it assigned capital to Wellington Management Co. for a regional US equities brief and Sector Asset Management was tapped for a global sector mandate during the period.

The fund added that it made an income of 55 million crowns from securities lending in the first quarter.

The return on the Environmental Fund in the first quarter was 4.1%.