The 100 wealthiest people on the planet added $6.1 billion to their collective net worth this week as global markets steadied amid signs of an improving U.S. labor market and hopes that European leaders would spare taxpayers from having to fund a bailout of the region’s troubled banks.
Warren Buffett, 82, the world’s fourth-richest man, gained $950 million during the week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. On Dec. 11, the U.S. billionaire called for an increase in U.S. estate taxes on the wealthy. U.S. lawmakers are deciding on tax policies that expire at the end of the year.
“The market remains incredibly resistant, taking bad news in its stride, while rallying on positive developments,” Jeff Mortimer, a Boston-based director of investor strategy at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, said by e-mail. “While we expect some near-term choppiness in both the equity and fixed income markets, we believe that investors using weakness to establish long positions in equities will be rewarded.” His firm oversees $178 billion in client assets.
Unemployment insurance claims in the U.S. fell more than forecast following the addition of 146,000 jobs in November. Labor Department figures showed the country’s jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent. The U.S. Federal Reserve said it intends to keep policy accommodative until employment falls below 6.5 percent.
At the European Union summit in Brussels, finance ministers agreed to measures that may pave the way to relieving the banking and sovereign debt crisis in the region. After the summit, French President Francois Hollande predicted an economic turnaround next year.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.32 percent during the week to close at 1413.58 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed, closing at 279.40.
Brazil’s Eike Batista, 56, dropped 38 places on the index after Bloomberg News reported that the commodities tycoon promised a 5 percent annual return on a $2 billion investment from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co. When Batista sold the sovereign wealth fund 5.63 percent of his EBX Group Co. in March, he also pledged an unspecified additional stake in 2019 if he fails to meet the target, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
As a result, Batista’s fortune plummeted by $6.4 billion for the week. He is now the world’s 74th-richest person, down from 36th on Dec. 12, with a net worth of $12.5 billion, according to the index. Batista’s former title as the richest Brazilian is now held by 73-year-old banker Jorge Paulo Lemann, who ranks 36th on the index with an $19.1 billion fortune.
The richest man in Europe, Amancio Ortega, 76, gained 2.3 billion after Inditex, the world’s biggest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara fashion chain, reported a 27 percent increase in net income to 1.66 billion euros ($2.2 billion) despite slowing sales in the third quarter. Inditex shares reversed the losses it posted on Dec. 13 when the company failed to beat analyst estimates for the first time in more than three years. Ortega is worth $56 billion.
Carlos Slim, 72, remains the world’s richest man. The Mexican telecommunications tycoon gained $2.4 billion, as shares of America Movil SAB rose 2.36 percent after announcing its Telcel unit is selling prepaid mobile phone plans to Mexican-American users. Slim’s net worth is estimated at $75.7 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.