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Apple market cap tops Microsoft, is now world's largest tech company

Apple's market capitalization hit $222 billion on Wednesday, leaving it ahead of rival Microsoft as the largest technology company in the world when the closing bell rang on Wall Street.

The dethroning of Microsoft now makes Apple — for now — the second largest American company, behind only Exxon-Mobil. Apple has a ways to go to catch the oil giant, which has a market capitalization of nearly $280 billion.

But Apple on Wednesday had the distinction of being the largest technology company in the world, surpassing its Redmond, Wash., rival, in terms of market capitalization, reflected through stock price.

Apple's stock finished the day down 1.09, or 0.44 percent, to $244.13, giving it a market cap of $222 billion. Microsoft also lost $1.09, but its stock price of $24.98 left it with a market cap of $219 billion. The two companies were neck-and-neck much of the day, with the volatility of the market having the two trade places for some time.

But Apple also has a price-to-earnings ratio of more than 20, while Microsoft's is nearly 13, and Exxon's is 13.5.

However long it lasts, Wednesday's accomplishment is yet another milestone for Apple, which has turned itself around since company co-founder Steve Jobs returned to the helm and oversaw a tremendous decade in the 2000s. Apple's success has been largely credited to Jobs, who was named the world's best performing CEO last year. The chief executive increased his company's market cap a whopping $150 billion over a 12-year span.

In April, Apple passed Microsoft in the S&P 500 rankings, which rely on a float-adjusted market cap. Those numbers do not use the full market basis, but apply only to shares on the open market.