The escalation of US-China trade skirmishes prompted a bloodbath on Wall Street on Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeting 767 points and the S&P 500 index falling nearly 3 per cent. It was the biggest single-day drop posted by US stocks this year, and in the bargain the world's 500 richest individuals took a massive hit to their personal fortunes.
The 500 names on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index lost 2.1 per cent of their collective networth, or $117 billion, the news agency reported. The world's richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw the steepest decline of $3.43 billion. LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault of France, who lost $3.25 billion, was next in line followed by Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (-$2.80 billion) and Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who saw an erosion of $2.45 billion. In fact, as many as 21 billionaires lost $1 billion or more as investors reacted to stepped-up tensions between the US and China.
The US last week announced that it would impose a 10 per cent tariff on Chinese imports worth $300 billion starting September 1 and said it could raise duties further if China's President Xi Jinping failed to move more quickly towards a trade deal.
Indian billionaires did not escape Monday's bloodbath either. The 17 names from the country on the index, including Ambani, Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar, Uday Kotak, Gautam Adani, Radhakishan Damani, Cyrus Poonawalla and Savitri Jindal, lost over $6 billion in a single trading day. Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal was the only desi name on the list to be in the green, seeing his personal fortune increase by $92.8 million.
The loss is an abrupt reversal for the world's richest, who up until today had experienced steady gains. Nonetheless, despite this dent, the 500 individuals on the index control almost $5.4 trillion, an 11 per cent increase from January 1.
The BSE Sensex had also cracked 700 points on Monday before paring some losses to trade 396 points lower at 36,721.37 in the afternoon trade amid weak global cues. However, it has rebounded by over 277 points today led by gains mainly in bank and auto stocks as participants hoped that the RBI will further slash its repo rate to lift sagging consumer sentiment.
Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal with PTI inputs