Apple stock hits new record high

Apple's stock hit a new high after a four-month swoon as investors looked ahead to the release of a new iPhone and possibly a smaller iPad.

Already the world's most valuable company, Apple saw its stock hit 648.19 dollars (£413.16) just before closing, before retreating to 645.11 dollars (£411.20). That was up 11.77 dollars (£7,50), or 1.9%, from Thursday's close.

The previous high for the stock was 644 dollars (£410.47), hit on April 10.

Apple has a market value of about 608 billion dollars (£387 billion), almost 50% higher than No 2 Exxon Mobil at 408 billion dollars (£260 billion).

Apple's stock fell last month after the company's earnings report for the April-June quarter showed the slowest growth in more than two years. It was only the second time in 10 years that Apple had missed analyst expectations.

Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek raised his price target on the stock to 900 dollars (£573) from 800 dollars (£510) on Friday, saying an "iPad Mini" is in production in China.

His belief is based on readings of reports from Apple's suppliers, contract manufacturers and contacts in the region. He now believes Apple will build 25 million iPads of all kinds in the current quarter, up from a previous estimate of 16 million, which did not include the "Mini".

The Cupertino, California, company has not said anything about a new iPhone or iPad.

Speculation about a smaller iPad has been rife this year. Analysts believe Apple wants to make a cheaper tablet computer to counter the threat of Google's Nexus 7 and's Kindle Fire, both of which sell for 199 dollars (£126). The cheapest current iPad costs 399 dollars (£254).

Analysts now believe the iPhone 5 will go on sale in late September, and it is widely believed that it will be the biggest phone launch ever. Rumoured upgrades include the ability to access the latest wireless data networks in the US and a slightly bigger screen.