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Facebook ups IPO shares to $38, edges towards $104bn value

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Facebook has reportedly raised the price range on its IPO shares from the $28-$35 range to $34-$38 each, as the growing interest of investors has boosted the valuation of the firm to up to an eye-watering $104bn.

By the end of last week, reports abounded that the initial public offering was oversubscribed, and the demand for the hottest internet stock since Google debuted has made it easy for the social network to up the ante.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters today that Facebook had raised the share price, while a second source said that the IPO book would close today, ahead of schedule, another sign that the craving has been at fever pitch.

The sluggish world economy has put companies off going public on the markets for fear of taking a battering if stocks are once again hit by circumstances outside their control – for example, Greece exiting from the euro.

Facebook has been arguably the most exciting stock to come online in the last two years. An almost mystical faith has sprung up in the shares, despite the fact that the social network hasn't yet found a way to adequately monetise its mobile apps; despite the myriad and ongoing changes to the UI, which have caused some user grumbling; and despite its head honcho, Mark Zuckerburg, being seen to fly solo on some extremely big decisions – as evidenced by his spending of $1bn on non-revenue-generating app firm Instagram without telling the board.

Although those issues could give some bullish stockholders pause, Facebook has proved enduringly popular in comparison to rivals like MySpace and Bebo. Investors may be counting on the fact that, like Google, the network is now so entwined into people's internet interactions that they'd find it hard to disentangle themselves even if they wanted to.

If Facebook continues to be oversubscribed despite the price hike, the shares are likely to jump on the first day of trading – expected to be this Friday – as those who missed out jump on the stocks. ®

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