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What is the meaning of "investment universe" of a fund, such as the Norwegian Petroleum Fund?

The "investment universe" of a fund is the set of possible securities that the fund could hold. Think of this as anything the fund could buy.

Is "investment universe" the same as "benchmark"?

No, "benchmark" is often an index created to provide context on how well an investment performed. Thus, one benchmark for say a US stock fund may be an index of stocks that the fund may invest in such as the S & P 500 for large US stocks. A fund could have as its "investment universe" these stocks and invest in those 500 companies in varying degrees that may or may not make the S & P 500 be an appropiate benchmark since if the fund invests in just 50 stocks of the S & P 500 then this could be quite a difference fund. Similarly, a fund could invest in an equal-weight approach to the 500 stocks which makes it different than the market-cap weighted S & P 500. Hopefully that makes some sense and doesn't seem overly verbose.

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