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It wasn’t that long ago that we were writing about Apple surpassing Microsoft to claim the title of the most valuable technology company. (In fact, it was just 15 months ago). But now the Steve Jobs-led juggernaut has hit yet another impressive milestone, rising above Exxon Mobil in trading today to claim the mantle of most valuable business in the world. (See updates below).

Earlier today, Apple rose more than two percent, giving it a whopping market value of $333 billion. That compares to Exxon Mobil, which dropped more than three percent, with a market value of $328 billion.

This has to be one of the greatest turnarounds in business history. After all, as Bloomberg notes, Apple was close to bankruptcy just before Jobs returned to the helm. However, Jobs made some critical bets, transforming Apple into a consumer gadget powerhouse with devices such as the iPod, iPhone and, most recently, the iPad.

Meanwhile, investors shaved more from Microsoft today, with the company now showing a market value of $202 billion. (We’ll update the post as soon as the markets close, but it doesn’t appear like Exxon Mobile will regain the lead today).

UPDATE 12:43 P.M.: Wow, both companies are neck-and-neck, with Exxon Mobil erasing most of the early losses. Now, Exxon has moved into the positive, and is showing a $341 billion market value. Apple also is surging, with a market value standing at $341 billion. Curious, who will end up on top?

UPDATE 1:15 P.M.: A late rally pushed Exxon Mobil back into positive territory, giving the oil and gas producer a market value of $348.3 billion. That just edged out Apple, which also rallied more than five percent on the day, to finish trading with a market value of $346.7 billion. (I’ve altered the headline above to reflect the closing bell prices). This heated race is going to be interesting to watch. Which company would you bet on right now?

Here’s a closer look at Apple’s 10-year rocket ship ride.

Meanwhile, here’s more chatter on why Apple is surging past Exxon Mobil, including this gem from one of the talking heads at MarketWatch.

“It costs more to go out and find a couple billion dollar barrels worth of oil and drill it out of the ground, then do this stuff.”

Later, the host of the program wonders if Apple employees will pop some Champagne now and get “blind drunk.”

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