Norway’s NOK7.1trn (€707bn) former oil fund, the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), saw its year-to-date investment returns rise markedly in the third quarter as equities – and particularly those in the technology sector – performed strongly.

In its report for the third quarter, the GPFG confirmed preliminary numbers released earlier this month and said, in foreign currency terms, its investments had produced a 4% return between January and September.

This was up from the returns seen in the first and second quarters of -0.63% and 1.27%, respectively, and brings the return for the first nine months of this year to 4.65%.

Equity investments returned 6% and fixed income returned 0.9%, with returns for both these asset classes beating the benchmark by 0.2% in the quarter, according to Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the GPFG.

Real estate investments, meanwhile, generated a 2.3% return in July to September, the first positive quarterly result produced by the asset class this year.

Trond Grande, deputy chief executive, said: “Equity investments performed strongest during the quarter, with positive return in all regions.”

He added that this was the main contributor to the fund’s result.

Technology companies were the strongest performers in the third quarter, returning 13.5%.

“Consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, and the sector was boosted by strong growth in e-commerce and digital advertising,” NBIM said.

It said there had been further growth in new cloud-based IT services, as well as higher levels of investment in traditional hardware and software.

It terms of the GPFG’s individual shareholdings, the fund’s shares in Apple contributed the most in the quarter, followed by HSBC Holdings and technology company Alphabet.

Despite the investment return of NOK240bn in the third quarter, the fund’s value fell to NOK7.12bn at the end of September, down from NOK7.18bn at the end of June.

NBIM explained that the Norwegian government withdrew NOK30bn from the fund between July and September, and that, in the same period, the fund’s value in Norwegian kroner shrank considerably because of the domestic currency’s strong rise on foreign exchanges, taking a NOK268bn hit.

The GPFG only invests outside Norway.

Some 60.6% of assets were invested in equities at the end of the third quarter, 36.3% in fixed income and 3.1% in real estate.