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Apple cash reserves greater than those held by most US industries combined

The $178 billion in cash reserves Apple held at the end of 2014 was more than aggregate of every other non-financial U.S. industry sector, excluding the technology and medical industries, according to a Moody's Investors Service study released on Thursday.

The U.S. technology sector had a combined $690 billion in cash in 2014. Apple has been the top American cash holder since 2011, Moody's said. Apple controlled 10.2 percent of all the cash held by companies in the study.

In terms of individual corporations, Microsoft's $90.2 billion in cash ranked it second next to Apple, while Google came in third with $64.4 billion. Rounding out the top 10 were Pfizer, Cisco, Oracle, Johnson & Johnson, Qualcomm, Medtronic, and Merck.

Apple's cash reserves climbed even higher during the March quarter to $194 billion. $171 billion of that was kept overseas, however, since like a number of major American businesses, Apple has refused to repatriate the money at current tax rates. Apple and other businesses have periodically lobbied for a one-time tax "holiday" to bring cash back.

On April 27, Apple announced that it was adding another $50 billion to its capital return program, which should now see a total of $200 billion given to shareholders by the end of March 2017. That includes a higher dividend for the recent quarter, increased from $0.47 to $0.52 per share.