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Apple hits record as AI features promise boost in iPhone sales

2024 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), in Cupertino

(Reuters) -Apple shares surged over 7% to a record high on Tuesday, nearly regaining from Microsoft its crown as the world's most valuable company a day after it unveiled new AI features meant to rekindle demand for iPhones.

Tuesday's rally came as Apple trails the S&P 500 in 2024 due to waning iPhone sales and concerns on Wall Street that the company is lagging other technology heavyweights in a race to dominate emerging artificial intelligence technology.

Apple's stock climbed 7.3% to end the day at $207.15.

With a market capitalization of $3.18 trillion, Apple was just behind Microsoft at $3.22 trillion, and just ahead of AI chip powerhouse Nvidia at $2.97 trillion.

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All three are in a tight race to be the world's most valuable company.

Microsoft's market value most recently overtook Apple's in January. Nvidia's value briefly eclipsed Apple's last week.

At its annual developer event on Monday, Apple unveiled an improved Siri virtual assistant that can answer a wider range of queries and accomplish more complicated tasks than earlier versions, and several AI features across its apps that will be shipped with the latest operating systems for iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

At least 13 analysts raised their price targets on Apple's shares after the developer event, with some saying the latest features could encourage a cascade of new purchases as the company prepares to announce a new line of iPhones in autumn.

"Apple is demonstrating that it is invested in evolving its platform and devices to enable the next era of computing, interfaces and experiences," Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik and Shubham Batra in Bengaluru and by Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bill Berkrot)