NEW YORK (AP) -- The rich got richer in most parts of the world last year, except for Asia and Africa.
A study released Monday found that there were nearly 7.2 million people around the globe in 2000 who had at least $1 million in investable assets, an increase of 180,000 from 1999.
Their total wealth was estimated at $27 trillion, up 6 percent from $25.5 trillion the previous year.
In the United States and Canada, the number of "high net worth" individuals rose 2.4 percent to 2.54 million, and their wealth increased 9 percent to $8.8 trillion.
The growth in both the number of wealthy and their holdings would have been even greater had stock markets around the world not fallen substantially after the first quarter. In 1999, when the stock market rose strongly, the assets of the world's wealthiest individuals grew 18 percent.
The only two regions that did not join in the boom last year were Africa, where commodity prices have been depressed, and Asia, where performance was dampened by weak economic growth in Japan.
The annual study, the fifth in a series, was prepared by the Merrill Lynch & Co. brokerage and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young consultants.
At 7.2 million, the world's wealthiest people represent just a tiny fraction of the world's population of 6.1 billion.
The survey looks at people it calls "high net worth individuals," who have cash, stocks and other assets worth at least $1 million.
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