Swedish investors cool to risks of stock ownership

Swedes appear to prefer keeping their savings in the bank or under the mattress, rather than risk it in the volatile Stockholm stock market.

Small-time investors in Sweden transacted 36,300 stock trades a day in August, an increase of 1 percent from July, but a 16 percent drop compared to August of last year.

Normally private stock trading increases by about 10 percent after the summer months.

“Savers didn’t return to the stock exchange in August like they used to, but instead stayed away. This year on the stock exchange has been tough for savers who have had their patience and strength worn down,” said Claes Hemberg, a savings economist with internet brokerage Avanza, to the TT news agency.

Many investors have unloaded their shares in telecoms giant Ericsson, despite the fact that its stock price rise 12 percent in August.

And a 15 percent stock price rise in drug maker Astra Zeneca and a 25 percent hike for shares in packaging company Billerud still didn’t stop small investors from hitting the sell button.

“It’s a little strange since things have gone so well. When there is uncertainty in the market people should look for common stocks, but instead people are selling them. I think that is a very clear sign that people are skeptical about stocks in general,” said Hemberg.

The number of Swedes who own stocks has steadily decreased in recent years and is at its lowest level in eight years, according to Avanza.

“We’re getting close to having two million savers who own stocks. That can sound like a lot but there are many who only own a share in Ericsson or TeliaSonera. It’s an altogether older group who sell to use the money for their retirement,” said Hemberg.

“It’s probably the case that most Swedes aren’t made to own stocks. When there is this much uncertainty, people discover how hard it actually is. Mutual funds are simpler and not as sensitive. Bank accounts have also been winners in the last year.”


Police to investigate Nordea bank over money laundering

Danish police will investigate the Swedish bank Nordea after a year-long probe by regulators into money laundering led to "criticism" of its procedures, the bank said Friday.

Police to investigate Nordea bank over money laundering
Photo: Marcus Ericsson / TT

Detectives will examine how money laundering rules were followed at the bank's Danish subsidiary and could result in “sanctions”, Nordea said in a statement.

“We realize that we initially underestimated the complexity and the time it takes to change our procedures,” said Nordea chief executive Casper von Koskull.

The bank added that 850 Nordea employees are currently involved in the fight against money laundering which the bank plans to increase to 1,150 by the end of the year.

In May 2015 the bank was fined 50 million kronor (€5.4 million euros) – the maximum possible – by Swedish regulators who accused Nordea of “not following money laundering rules for several years” and failing to “evaluate the risks of (doing business with) certain clients”.