The 40 richest people on the planet added $19.4 billion to their collective net worth yesterday after an increase in U.S. jobs and positive earnings reports erased losses sustained earlier in the week.
The day’s biggest gainer was Spanish retail tycoon Amancio Ortega, who added $2.8 billion to his fortune as shares of Inditex SA, the world’s largest clothing retailer, jumped 5.4 percent. The 76-year-old, Europe’s richest man, is worth $45.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“Investor sentiment has turned a little bit more positive,” said Kristen Scarpa, a New York-based investment strategist at Barclays Wealth Management, in a telephone interview yesterday. “Job growth is the key to igniting additional consumption, which will drive the U.S economy forward.”
Global stocks slumped earlier in the week after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi failed to articulate the details of a bond-buying plan to ease the euro area crisis. The Federal Reserve Bank’s pledge to provide additional support for the economy further disappointed investors who were anticipating a more definitive sign of additional monetary easing.
The losses were reversed yesterday after the U.S. Labor Department reported a 163,000 payroll increase in July, boosted by a pickup in employment at automakers, even as the jobless rate rose to 8.3 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.4 percent during the week to close at 1390.99 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 2.22 percent, closing at 265.58.
In the full week, Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest man, gained $65 million after he offered on July 31 to buy back all of the outstanding shares of his ports developer, LLX Logistica SA. Batista will pay as much as 618.7 million reais ($305 million) to take the Rio de Janeiro-based LLX private. The company’s stock plunged to a three-year low last month.
The proposal is a reversal for Batista, 55, who has taken public six energy, commodities and logistics startups since 2006. Batista’s $21.3 billion fortune makes him the world’s 22nd-richest person.
Bernard Arnault’s fortune increased $474 million during the week. Shares of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury goods maker, rose 3.1 percent in Paris trading after reporting a 20 percent increase in first-half earnings on July 26. France’s richest man, 63, ranks 16th on the index with a net worth of $24.1 billion.
Carlos Slim, 72, remains the world’s richest person. Slim’s fortune lost $569 million. He now has a net worth of $74.9 billion.
Bill Gates, 56, is $12.2 billion behind Slim. Shares of Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, were unchanged for the week. The world’s biggest software maker announced on July 31 that it will phase out Hotmail and introduce a new, free Web-based e-mail portal as it seeks to draw users from Mountain View, California-based Google Inc.’s Gmail.
No. 3 on the index is Warren Buffett, 81, with a net worth of $45.9 billion. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. rose to a 16-month high during the week. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company said yesterday that profit slipped 9 percent in the second quarter as derivative bets declined in value.
Liliane Bettencourt, Europe’s richest woman, sold her private island in the Seychelles to marine conservation organization Save Our Seas Foundation for $60 million, it was announced July 31. The L’Oreal SA heiress, 89, ranks 15th on the index with a net worth of $24.2 billion.
The richest man in Asia is Li Ka-Shing, who ranks 14th on the index with a net worth of $24.5 billion. Shares of the billionaire’s Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. rose 3.38 percent during the week in Hong Kong.
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., Li Ka-shing’s biggest company, posted first-half profit that beat analysts’ estimates after boosting earnings from U.K. utilities, phone services in Europe and retail stores in China.
The 84-year-old last month transferred his son Richard’s stake in the family trust that controls Hutchison Whampoa and flagship developer Cheung Kong to his oldest son, Victor.
“His character is similar with mine and he is prudent when dealing with things,” the elder Li said at a press conference in Hong Kong Aug. 1. “I shall do my best to support him. I have the cash in the bank and he can take it anytime. It’s for him but I’m not encouraging him to take it all now.”
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 and listed in U.S. dollars.