Norway's $900-billion sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, returned a profit in the fourth quarter due to strong equity markets, it said today. 

The sovereign wealth fund invests the proceeds from Norway's revenues from oil and gas production in foreign stocks, bonds and real estate. 

Its value corresponds to about $171,000 for every Norwegian man, woman and child. 

The fund earned a return of 2.17% in the three months from October to December. In the third quarter it had booked a return of 4%. 

The government withdrew 101 billion crowns during 2016 to pay for public expenses at a time of declining oil and gas revenues, the first year it does so. 

"The return in 2016 was characterised by falling international interest rates in the first half of the year, and strong equity markets in the second half," the fund's chief executive Yngve Slyngstad said. 

The fund also said it expected its size not to grow at the same rate between 2017 and 2019 as it did between 2014 and 2016. 

The fund cut its share of fixed income investments in the third quarter to 34.3% of its portfolio from 36.3% three months earlier while equity investments rose to 62.5% from 60.6%. 

Real estate holdings were 3.2% compared to 3.1% in the previous quarter.