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Apple nearer to being most valuable American company as shares hit all-time high

Apple, one of the world’s largest consumer-electronics manufacturers, is edging closer to stealing the title of largest company on the U.S. stock market from one of the world’s largest oil companies.

Shares of Apple, the manufacturer of consumer electronics like the iPhone, iPad and Macbook Pro, rose for the seventh day in a row today, and are now priced at an all-time high of $301.40 as of 9 a.m. PST.

That means Apple is closing in on Exxon Mobil as the largest company on the stock market with a market capitalization of $274.9 billion, behind Exxon Mobil’s market cap of $330.6 billion. A company’s market capitalization, or market cap, is the product of a company’s stock price and the number of shares it has issued to investors. It is a measure of the company’s value. Apple passed PetroChina, another oil company whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with a market cap of $235.6 billion, in September.

Apple’s shares have been on a hot streak in advance of the release of its fourth quarter earnings next week, hitting a new all-time high each day for the past seven days. The last quarter will be Apple’s first full quarter in which it sells the iPhone 4. Expectations are high, as Apple crushed estimates last quarter by selling about 3.3 million iPads.

Shares were up across the board on the stock market on positive earnings reports from Intel and other companies like JPMorgan Chase and railway company CSX Corporation. The tech-heavy NASDAQ composite, of which Apple and other tech juggernauts like Google are part, rose about 1 percent.

Keep an eye out on Monday for VentureBeat’s report on Apple’s quarterly results. Positive earnings reports traditionally send share prices up, so there might be even more momentum coming Apple’s way.