NEW YORK (AP) - Apple's market capitalization hit $500 billion in opening trading, placing it in an exclusive club of companies that have reached the stratosphere of stock valuation.
Apple is already the world's most valuable company, and the gap between it and No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp. has widened rapidly in the past month, as investors have digested Apple's latest earnings report and raised their hopes that the company might institute a dividend.
On Tuesday, it sent out invites to reporters for an event in San Francisco next Wednesday, apparently for the launch of its next iPad model.
Several companies have reached the $500 billion level, but none have held on to it. Exxon was worth just over $500 billion for two short stretches at the end of 2007.
BY PETER SVENSSON
AP Technology Writer