NORWAY – The Norwegian central bank plans to make more than €800m of foreign currency purchases for Petroleum Fund next month.

“In April, Norges Bank will purchase foreign exchange equivalent to NOK320m (€39m) per day for the government Petroleum Fund,” the bank said. Based on 21 trading days in April, that works out at €819m in total.

It will be the first time this year that Norges Bank will buy foreign currency for the NOK1.02bn scheme this year. It last bought currency for the fund, at NOK640m a day, in November last year.

The Petroleum Fund’s foreign exchange requirements are partly met by the state’s direct financial interest in petroleum activities (SDFI) and partly by Norges Bank’s purchases in the market.

The Petroleum Fund returned 8.9% in 2004, 0.53 percentage points higher than the benchmark portfolio.

In a speech today, Norges Bank deputy governor Jarle Bergo said the fund has benefit from active equities management.

“Since 1998, the first whole year the Petroleum Fund invested in equities, the annual excess return from active management has been 0.45 percentage point. The corresponding krone amount is NOK14.2bn.”