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Record high achieved

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Apple's share price hit a record high yesterday, and it could well do so today.

AAPL stock closed yesterday at $59.95, up four per cent on the previous day's close. The stock began trading at $60.55, and peaked at $61.74 in some early transactions.

It's not hard to see why the stock might be proving so popular. This week's forecast that Apple will ship enough iPods this quarter to bring its to-date total up to 37m, coupled with the company's announcement that it had sold 1m $1.89 video downloads in under 20 days, has clearly got investors anticipating a strong Christmas quarter for the Mac maker.

That's particularly the case since its competitors in the portable digital media player market are anticipating a difficult period, thanks to the deal Apple is alleged to have made with Samsung to ensure it doesn't run out of Flash memory chips. The trouble is, some rivals say, most notably Creative, that means they may face supply problems.

Half of the top ten most popular notebooks on sale at Amazon.com are Apple machines, something analysts see as evidence of the iPod halo effect: the popularity of the player is encouraging computer buyers to choose a Mac rather than a Windows machine. On the desktop list, the number of Apple boxes rises to seven.

All but one of the e-tailer's top selling MP3 players are iPods. The odd one out is a 256MB SanDisk. It's no great surprise, perhaps, that the top-three selling iPods are all black models, vindicating Apple's new colour scheme.

Amazon.com's lists don't tell the whole story, of course, but they're a good indicator of US buying trends.

Another trend worth noting is a move among investors to favour stock known to be doing well, rather than simply offering the possibility of success at some future time.

"Investors want to own the names that are doing well," American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in an interview with Reuters. "It's the flight to quality... [Apple] is one of the few quality names out there with pretty high visibility. You know whether they're doing well or not." ®

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