NEW YORK CITY, RAW – Apple has become the first company with a $US3 trillion ($A4.2 trillion) stock market value, lifted by investors’ confidence the iPhone maker will keep launching best-selling products as it explores new markets such as automated cars and virtual reality.

On the first day of trading in 2022, the company’s shares hit an intraday record high of $US182.88, putting Apple’s market value just above $US3 trillion.

The stock ended the session up 2.5 per cent at $US182.01, with Apple’s market capitalisation at $US2.99 trillion.

The world’s most valuable company is the first to reach the latest milestone as investors bet consumers will continue to shell out top dollar for iPhones, MacBooks and services such as Apple TV and Apple Music.

“It’s a fantastic accomplishment and certainly worthy to be celebrated,” Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said.

“It just shows you how far Apple has come, and how dominant it is seen as in the majority of investors’ eyes.”

Apple shared the $US2 trillion market value club with Microsoft – now worth about $US2.5 trillion. Alphabet, Amazon.com and Tesla each have a market value above $US1 trillion.

“The market is rewarding companies that have strong fundamentals and balance sheets, and the companies that are hitting these sort of huge market caps have proven they are strong businesses and not speculation,” Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said.

The rapid embrace of technologies such as 5G, virtual reality and artificial intelligence has also helped these stocks become market darlings as investors moved towards cash-rich companies and away from businesses that have been more sensitive to economic growth.

In China, one of Apple’s biggest markets, it continued to lead smartphone sales for the second successive month, beating rivals such as Vivo and Xiaomi, recent data from CounterPoint Research showed.

With Tesla now the world’s most valuable vehicle maker as Wall Street bets heavily on electric cars, many investors expect Apple to launch its own vehicle within the next few years.

“The icing on the cake, which may turn out to be the cake, is the potential for an EV car,” Rhys Williams, chief strategist at Spouting Rock Asset Management, said.