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Bill Gates Regains “World’s Richest” Title
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is atop the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for the first time since 2007. Gates regained bragging rights as the World’ Richest Man after the tech giant’s shares, up 28 percent year to date, closed at a five-year high Thursday for the second time this week, CNN reports. Gates’ achievement is especially impressive considering the amount of money ($28 billion) he has donated to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s wealthiest philanthropic organizations that he operates with his wife and Warren Buffett. Gates usurped Mexican investor Carlos Slim, whose net worth has been trimmed by about $3 billion with the decline in value of his shares of America Movil, the largest cellphone carrier in the Americas. Gates’ fortune, valued at $72.7 billion, is up 15 percent to date. Less than one-fourth of that is held in shares of Microsoft.
Mexico Economy Grows More than Expected
Easing fears of an economic slowdown in Latin American, the Mexico economy beat forecasts for growth in the first quarter of 2013, Reuters reports. Mexico, the region’s second-largest economy, experienced a 0.45 percent rise in GDP in the first quarter of this year, compared to the last quarter of 2012, though the rate of growth has slowed on an annual basis. Analysts had predicted Mexico would slip into a recession in the first quarter, as economic weakness in the United States crimps growth.
U.S. Economy Will Grow over Next Two Years
The U.S. economy will grow steadily for at least the next two years, according to a poll of investors, analysts and traders released today by Bloomberg News. The optimism is buoyed by job creation at an average of 208,000 posts a month since November, the nation’s increasing energy independence and the continued housing market recovery. Nearly 70 percent of survey participants said the recovery was “sustainable,” while 27 percent predict the economy will fall back into recession by 2015.
Consumer Sentiment Regains July 2007 High
Americans, especially those from upper-income households, feel better about their financial situation and outlook than they have in almost six years, Reuters reports today. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose to 83.7 in May, a sharp increase from April’s reading of 76.4. Perceptions of current economic conditions rose to 97.5 from 89.9, a level last seen in October 2007. Consumers also indicated an increased likelihood of purchasing large consumer items, such as household appliances. The gauge of buying attitudes for durable goods rose to 148 in May from 137 in April.
Gas Prices Surge in the Midwest
Gas prices in the Midwest are up 27 cents in the past week following troubles at several oil refineries. Regional shortages are expected to drive prices at the pump higher nationwide, USA Today reports. Gas prices in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin spiked due to outages and extended maintenance, which has curbed output at refineries in Joliet, Ill., Whiting, Ind; Tulsa, Okla, and Eldorado, Kansas. Current average gas prices are $3.60 a gallon. They began the year averaging $3.29 a gallon. Economists caution that hikes in gas prices impact discretionary consumer spending.
European Car Sales Shift into High Gear
The European auto industry is moving into the fast lane, according to data from the European automaker’s association, The Associated Press reports. Year-to-year new car registrations in April, which benefited from two extra work days, were up 1.7 percent, the ACEA's latest figures show. Registrations for the first three months of 2013 were down 10 percent on the year before, while the latest figures show that sales for the first four months of the year were 7.1 percent less than in 2012. Industry watchers are expressing hope the latest figures suggest “a slowdown in the collapse.” Last year, four of the biggest automakers based in Europe - Ford, PSA Peugeot, Fiat and General Motors - together posted operating losses of 5 billion euros ($7 billion) for the region, the AP reports. The worsening recession and rising unemployment has caused factory closures and postponements of new car launches. The European auto industry directly employs 2.3 million people, according to the ACEA.