Apple became the first US company to be valued at over $3tn on Monday as the tech company continued its phenomenal share price growth, tripling in value in under four years.
A pandemic-era surge in tech stocks has driven the major US tech companies to new highs, pulling US stock markets with them. Apple became the world’s first trillion dollar company in August 2018, passed $2tn in 2020 and hit its new high as trading began after the holidays and its shares passed $182.80 a piece before dipping lower to end the day valued at over $2.9tn.
Apple alone is now more valuable than the combined values of Boeing, Coca-Cola, Disney, Exxon-Mobil, McDonald’s, Netflix and Walmart. Its shares have risen 38% since the beginning of 2021, one of the largest gains on the Dow Jones industrial average stock market index.
The company released its last quarterly earnings in October and made a profit of $20.6bn over the previous three months despite suffering from Covid-related supply chain issues.
It is unlikely to remain the only $3tn company as analysts expect Microsoft will also hit the mark later this year.
The news came as US markets edged higher and European shares bounded to record highs in the first day of trading in 2022 as investors bet on a steady economic recovery despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Europe’s benchmark stock index, the Stoxx 600, rose to a record intraday high of 491.73 points on Monday, surpassing its November peak of 490.58, as global oil and equity markets climbed. It later closed at 489.99, up 0.45%.
The Stoxx 600 recorded a 22.4% jump last year, its second-best yearly performance in over a decade, after the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and government stimulus spending encouraged investors to pour money back into the markets.
The share price of airlines Lufthansa and Air France–KLM were two of the biggest climbers across Europe’s equity markets after analysts at Citi forecast that the reopening of travel routes to Asia could help bolster the beleaguered travel sector. Lufthansa shares rose by almost 8.9% to €6.73 a share, and Air France KLM rose by 4.9% to €4.06.
Europe’s record start to the new year set the stage for US markets to continue their late 2021 recovery. The opening of the S&P 500 index, which climbed by a record 47.7% last year, was bolstered by a 9% jump in Tesla shares after the company’s quarterly deliveries exceeded expectations.
In another boost to US markets global oil prices, which last year recorded their biggest annual rise since at least 2016, resumed their rise towards $80 a barrel as fears that emerged late last year over the impact of the Omicron variant waned. The oil price helped shares in US oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil climb by 1% each.
The London Stock Exchange (LSE), which has lagged behind its European and US rivals by climbing 14.3% last year, was closed on Monday for the new year bank holiday. The FTSE 100 has been criticised as “old-fashioned” due to its dearth of tech companies and a glut of oil and bank stocks. It remained 6.5% below its May 2018 peak last year while the US, German and French markets all hit record highs.
Sean Darby, a global equity strategist at Jefferies, said: “Although Covid-19 variants permeated the global economy, 2021 was the year of records with many bourses closing at or near record highs, while inflows into equities surpassed their largest accumulation ever. Peering into 2022, we expect volatility to rise.”
Global oil markets are also expected to face ongoing volatility in the year ahead as traders balance the risk that the Omicron variant may stall a rebound in demand for transport fuels, against uncertain supplies from the world’s biggest oil producers.