Apple stock price surpasses $500 for first time

Shares in technology giant Apple have crossed $500 (£317) a share for the first time.

It caps a remarkable turnaround for the iPhone maker, whose shares were once worth as little as $3.19 in 1997, when it faced the possibility of bankruptcy.

Apple is now worth $460bn.

The company's revival under Steve Jobs, who died last year, came about first in computers and then the iPod music player, which was followed by the iPhone and iPad.

Last month, Apple reported record-breaking net profits for the last three months of 2011, up 118% to $13.06bn from the same period a year earlier.

The profits were the fourth-biggest in US corporate history.

Mr Jobs co-founded Apple in Silicon Valley in 1976 but was fired a decade later.

He was asked to rejoin in 1997 and changed the company's product lines, culminating in the success of the iPhone and its tablet spin-off, the iPad.

Apple is in an escalating patent war with rivals Google and handset-makers such as Samsung and HTC over their operating systems.

Image caption The late Steve Jobs lived to see Apple become the most valuable US firm in the world

It recently filed a motion in US court that would ban Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, which uses Google's Android.

Apple is poised to announce the third generation of its iPad next month, reports suggest.

Meanwhile, the working conditions in factories that produce Apple products are to be inspected, the computing giant announced.

The Fair Labor Association will audit several suppliers, including Foxconn in China, at Apple's request.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said: "Workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment."

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