India, China lead world millionaire club surge

The ranks of the world's millionaires grew 6% last year, as people in the emerging economies of India and China grew richer, according to an annual survey by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch. The number of people with over $1 million to invest, not including the value of their homes or consumable goods, rose 6% to 10.1 million last year, the firms said in their World Wealth Report, published on Tuesday.

The world's millionaires increased the value of their assets by 9.4% to $40.7 trillion, less than the 11.4% rise in 2006,India and China posted the biggest gains in millionaires, advancing by 23% and 20%, respectively. During last year, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of the largest US stocks rose 3.7%, the UK's FTSE 100 Index gained 2.4% and the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index climbed 37%.

"The impressive growth of emerging economies was boosted by thriving exports and heightened domestic demand," Nick Tucker, market leader for Merrill's UK private-client division, said in London on Tuesday. Slower economic growth may lead to a decline in the number of millionaires in the US and UK this year, he added. Wealthy individuals poured 44% of their investments into "safer" investments, like deposits and bonds, the survey showed.

Turmoil in credit markets weighed on growth in assets under management for the global wealth-management industry last year, with the median increase slowing to 12% from 14% in 2006, a separate survey by Scorpio Partnership, a consulting firm in London, showed on Tuesday.

Growth in the number of millionaires slowed to 2.1% in the UK, and about 4% in the US, according to the report. That was outpaced by an 8.7% rise in the Asia-Pacific region and 16% jump in west Asia.

The IMF predicts advanced economies this year will suffer their fastest price gains since 1995 and their weakest expansion in seven years.

(The times of India)

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