SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - The world's 500 richest people lost a combined US$139 billion (S$194.6 billion) on Monday (Feb 24) as markets buckled amid fears that the spread of the coronavirus outbreak will hammer the global economy.
It's the biggest wealth drop for the group since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index began tracking that figure in October 2016. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average each dropped more than 3 per cent on the day, the most in more than two years, as authorities struggled to contain the virus.
Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury-goods maker LVMH, and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos led the declines, with each losing more than US$4.8 billion. Amancio Ortega, chief executive officer of Zara parent Inditex, tumbled US$4 billion, and the fortunes of everyone else in the top 10 slid by at least US$2.3 billion.
China, where the virus originated, makes up 40 per cent of the global market for luxury goods. Paris-based LVMH increased its Asia share excluding Japan to 30 per cent last year from 15 per cent in 2002.
The market declines hit the stocks of cruise-line operators particularly hard, with Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings each dropping about 9 per cent.