The 100 richest people on Earth gained a combined $26.9 billion this week as an unexpected drop in the American unemployment rate bolstered confidence in the world’s largest economy.
The fortunes of Google Inc. founders Sergey Brin, 39, and Larry Page, 39, reached their highest point ever Thursday. Google shares established a record high after the Mountain View, California-based company announced it had settled a lawsuit with five publishers over the digital scanning of books. Brin and Page rank 20th and 23th in the world with net worths of about $23 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“Good news on multiple fronts kept the S&P near its five year high this week,” said Nelson Saiers, chief investment officer of Alphabet Management LLC, a New York-based hedge fund with more than $500 million under management. “It started with the positive manufacturing number Monday and concluded with the surprisingly low unemployment rate.”
In the U.S., the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, as employers took on more part-time workers. The economy added 114,000 workers, in-line with economists’ estimates, and August’s growth was revised higher by 46,000 jobs to 142,000.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.41 percent during the week to close at 1460.93 in New York, its highest close since 2007. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.1 percent, closing at 274.11.
Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, 72, remains the richest person in the world, with a fortune of $77.5 billion, up $2.2 billion for the week. Second is Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, 56, with $64.4 billion. Amancio Ortega, the 76-year-old founder of Inditex SA (ITX), owner of the Zara clothing chain, is No. 3 on the index with a net worth of $53.6 billion, $5.2 billion ahead of Warren Buffett. Ortega has added more than $18 billion to his fortune this year.
Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest person, shed $926 million from his net worth this week. Shares of his mining startup, MMX Mineracao (MMXM3) & Metalicos SA, hit its lowest price since 2009 on concern it will take longer than targeted to make the first iron-ore shipment from its Sudeste port.
Separately, the billionaire told reporters he may cut his stake in his shipbuilding unit, OSX Brasil SA (OSXB3), after he injects $1 billion into the company. He also may announce the $2 billion sale of 49 percent of closely held gold unit AUX to Qatar as soon as the end of the month, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told Bloomberg News this week.
Facebook Inc. (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is down $6.8 billion for the year. The company told Bloomberg Businessweek that its user base had eclipsed the 1 billion mark in September. Despite his sagging fortune, the 28-year-old remains optimistic about his company’s future.
“The big thing is obviously going to be mobile,” he said. “There are five billion people in the world who have phones and a billion people using Facebook. There are actually already 600 million people using Facebook on phones, so that’s growing really quickly. And as more phones become smartphones, it’s just this massive opportunity.”
Zuckerberg ranks 88th in the world with a net worth of $10.7 billion.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars. The collective wealth of the index is $1.9 trillion.
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