Donald Trump’s war of words with North Korea is hurting the world’s richest people, who took a huge £4.5bn hit as shares continued to fall on Thursday amid heightening political tension.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all saw huge sums wiped off their paper worth as investors sold off equities and headed for perceived safe havens such as gold.
Mr Bezos, who briefly became the richest person in the world last week as Amazon shares surged, was the biggest loser of the three on Thursday. He saw $2bn wiped off the value of his shares in the online retail behemoth in a matter of hours.
Facebook chairman and founder Mr Zuckerberg’s net worth slid by $1.6bn over the course of the day, while Mr Gates lost $850m off the value of his Microsoft stake.
In total, around $30bn was wiped of the value of US blue chip companies overnight. US markets are bracing for further losses today after European indexes fell on Friday morning.
Mr Trump’s bellicose warning that North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it made any more threats against the US, sent global stock markets into a tailspin on Wednesday.
European stocks entered their third day of falls on Friday and were on track for their worst week The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.7 per cent, taking its weekly losses to 2.4 percent, its worst since early November last year.
Euro zone stocks and blue-chips also dropped 0.7 per cent, while the miner-heavy FTSE underperformed and was down 0.8 per cent.
Business picture of the day
Mr Trump has been urged to soften his approach over North Korea’s threat to launch a nuclear attack on Guam, but instead chose to up the ante on Thursday.
When quizzed about his use of the “fire and fury” phrase by reporters at his New Jersey golf club, the President said: “If anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.”
Shortly before Wall Street was set to open in New York on Friday Mr Trump again used provocative and confrontational language, saying the US was “locked and loaded” on North Korea if it decides to act “unwisely”.