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Microsoft loses No. 1 slot for market cap

General Electric eclipses the software giant in market capitalization to take the crown for top global company in a survey of the top 500, according to a report.

    General Electric has eclipsed Microsoft as the top global company, according to a survey released Friday.

    The survey of the top 500 global companies, conducted by business newspaper The Financial Times, found Microsoft dropped to second place, followed by Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Citigroup, Wal-Mart Stores, AOL Time Warner, Royal Dutch/Shell, Intel and NTT DoCoMo.

    The survey was based on stock market capitalization at the end of last year, counted in U.S. dollars, according to Richard Waters, information industries editor at The Financial Times. Market capitalization measures the number of shares the company has in issue and multiplies that by the market price of those shares on the day the snapshot is taken, according to The Financial Times.

    The survey comes amid the economic gloom that has seen stock prices droop and pushed many online and offline companies to downsize and restructure their businesses. On Monday, Dell Computer said it will slash 3,000 to 4,000 jobs during the next two quarters. Networking equipment maker 3Com also said Monday it would cut its work force by 3,000 people, or 30 percent.

    "The tech sector in general has obviously suffered considerably compared with companies like General Electric, which have done extremely well," Waters said. The survey "is a clear indication that the Old Economy is back."

    The Financial Times also revealed that U.S. companies dominate the rankings, occupying eight of the top 10 slots and nearly half of the 500 companies in the survey. The Financial Times said that U.S. companies' combined market value of $10.9 trillion is six times that of the Japanese contingent.

    The hardest hit in the rankings was Japanese company Softbank, whose value collapsed along with its portfolio of Internet investments. Waters said Softbank was ranked last year at 44 but is now down to 447.

    Softbank has a stake in CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.