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Amazon share jump sees Jeff Bezos close in on Bill Gates as world's richest man

Jeff Bezos was closing in on Bill Gates' status as the world's richest man this evening as shares in Amazon jumped following better-than-expected profits.

The online retail giant, reporting its first set of results since it bought the grocery chain Whole Foods, slightly increased profits to US$256 million ($374m) in the third quarter of the year, surprising investors who had expected heavy investment to weigh on income.

Revenue increased by 34 per cent to US$43.7 billion ($63.9b), although this was partly boosted by the Whole Foods acquisition and currency fluctuations. Shares increased by as much as 8.5 per cent in after-hours trading, sending Bezos' net worth close to US$90b ($131b), close behind Gates, according to Daily Telegraph.

Microsoft, the company that Gates built his fortune on, also reported a strong set of third-quarter figures, with its rapidly growing cloud computing business sending shares up 3.5 per cent to an all-time high. Revenues grew 12 per cent to US$24.5b ($35.8b) while profits were up 16 per cent to US$6.6b ($9.6b).

Amazon and Microsoft are the two biggest players in cloud computing, in which other companies rent hosting and processing power from providers.

Despite Amazon being best known for its retail empire, its cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, is the company's profit driver.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, reported a 24 per cent increase in revenue to US$27.8b ($40b) Thursday night driven by booming sales of mobile advertising.

Despite the restructuring last year that makes Google just one part of the wider Alphabet group, with the company splitting off units such as its Nest smart home division and the GV venture capital arm, Alphabet still makes 99pc of its revenue from Google.

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