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Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, is seen in Santa Monica, California in this file photo.Reed Saxon/The Associated Press

A surge in Inc. shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer's earnings report briefly propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world's richest person.

Shares of the online retailer fell 0.7 per cent to $1,046 at 4 p.m. in New York, after climbing as high as $1,083.31 four hours earlier, which gave Bezos a net worth of $92.3-billion. Gates had a net worth of $90.8-billion as of the Wednesday close.

Bezos remains ranked second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, behind the Microsoft Corp. co-founder. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.

Read more: The Amazon effect: How e-commerce is driving a real estate revolution

Amazon's second-quarter earnings per share of 40 cents missed the lowest analyst estimate. The median estimate was for $1.42.

Read also: Amazon antitrust concerns emerge in Washington and Wall Street Bezos, 53, owns about 17 per cent of Seattle-based Amazon, which had surged 40 per cent this year through Wednesday, helping to add $24.5-billion to his net worth. He started 2017 as the world's fourth-wealthiest person and has since surpassed Warren Buffett and Inditex SA founder Amancio Ortega, 81, who ranks third with $82.7-billion.

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