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Apple's shares top $600 in advance of Friday's iPad release

Apple broke a new record on the stock market on Thursday, hitting $600.01 moments after the market's opening.

Apple stock 600 150312Enlarge
The Apple logo on an Apple Store is seen through a window. The company's stock reached $600 today, a day before the new iPad release. ( Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Apple's shares reached $600 for the first time on Thursday, breaking yet another record for the wildly popular electronics company, CNN Money reported

Apple stock (AAPL) hit $600.01 moments after the market opened Thursday, but quickly fell, and closed at at $585.56, according to CNN. 

The spike comes a day ahead of the new iPad's release; the newest iteration of Apple's tablet is expected to sell about 1 million units in its first 24 hours on sale Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported

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Apple is currently the world's most valuable company, with a market capitalization of about $553 billion, according to the Times. 

The company's stock has climbed consistently since reaching a $100 value nearly three years ago, and it has been increasing steadily ever since, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple hit the $500 mark for the first time about a month ago, according to CNN, and passed the $400 level for the first time seven months earlier. It's been just over a year since it surpassed $300, and AAPL shares traded above $200 in October 2009, CNN reported. 

Some predict Apple shares will soon surpass $700, according to Apple Insider

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Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray increased his estimated target for AAPL stock to $718 on Thursday, forecasting record sales of 60 million iPads and 134 million iPhones in 2012, according to Apple Insider. 

"With the launch of the third generation iPad, we believe Apple has positioned itself to continue to lead in tablet market share as competitors have struggled to release compelling products, even at reduced price points," Munster wrote.

The third version of Apple's iPad will be available in the US and nine other countries beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, according to the Associated Press. The new iPad boasts a faster processor, a much sharper screen, and an improved camera. It retails for a starting price of $499, just like the iPad 2 when it debuted a year ago, according to the AP. The iPad 2 remains in stock, for $100 less.

Munster also predicted that Apple will sell a sub-$300 iPad with a smaller display in 2013, a theory supported by numerous reports, Apple Insider reported. 

More from GlobalPost: iPad3: Apple confirms the new device will go on sale in March (VIDEO)
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/120315/apples-shares-top-600-ipad-release-friday