Microsoft becomes top-valued company

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On Thursday, January 11, 2024, Microsoft briefly overtook Apple to become the world's most valuable company, marking the first time it has done so since 2021. The Redmond, Washington-based company's shares were up 1.6%, giving it a market valuation of $2.875 trillion. This was largely due to Microsoft's early lead in the race to profit from generative artificial intelligence (AI), which saw the company aggressively roll out AI-powered tools in 2023. In contrast, Apple's shares were 0.9% lower, with a market capitalization of $2.871 trillion. The Cupertino, California-based company's stock has slid 3.3% in January as of the last close, compared with a 1.8% rise in Microsoft. This decline in Apple's stock follows a series of rating downgrades and growing concerns about iPhone sales, particularly in China. Microsoft and Apple have been trading places for the title of the most valuable public company for several years now. Microsoft surpassed Apple’s market cap in 2021, 2020, and 2018 before Apple once again regained its place at the top. Currently, Wall Street is more positive on Microsoft, with the company having no "sell" rating and nearly 90% of the brokerages covering the company recommending buying the stock. In contrast, Apple has two "sell" ratings and only two-thirds of the analysts covering the company rate it a "buy". Despite Microsoft's brief lead, Apple returned to the top spot at market close. However, the fluctuation in market value between these two tech giants illustrates the dynamic nature of the technology sector and the impact of new technologies such as AI on market valuations.
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