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Apple snags 52-week high

Apple Computer stock does something it hasn't been able to do for the past nine months--break into record territory.

Apple Computer stock did something today that it hasn't been able to do for the past nine months--break into record territory.

Apple has been chasing a new 52-week high for several weeks, and has come close on a number of occasions. But, today--a day when the markets in general dropped a notch--Apple inched forward, crossing a psychological threshold.

The stock climbed to 29.88 during trading, and closed at a year high of 29.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 45 points, and the Nasdaq fell about 14 points.

The record that Apple broke today was set last August 7, when the stock traded as high as 29.75 and closed at 29.19.

That was the day after Apple cofounder and interim chief executive Steve Jobs named a new board of directors and said that long-time rival Microsoft would invest $150 million in the computer maker.

So what pushed today's spike into the record books? For one thing, software maker Intuit today recommitted itself to developing a new version of its financial planning software, Quicken, for the Macintosh, after saying last month that it was halting development of the software for the Mac platform.

In April, when Intuit said it would not produce a new version for the Macintosh, the decision raised some questions about Apple's ability to keep developers in its fold.

Today, however, Intuit backpedaled on its decision to stop development, after Apple disclosed its upcoming consumer products and strategies to the financial software maker, the company said.

Another factor at play is Apple's expected unveiling tomorrow of its new line of Powerbook notebook computers, at a media event near the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. Apple also may detail its strategy for a $1,000 computer line at the event.

Intuit's decision to remain on the Apple bandwagon follows news that the company reversed a downward slide in its market share. Apple grew its market share in the United States to 4 percent during the first quarter of 1998, up from 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 1997, according to recent data from International Data Corporation.

Apple also recently posted a better-than-expected $55 million profit for the second fiscal quarter, reversing a loss of $708 million for the same period a year earlier. The per-share profit of 38 cents in diluted earnings was more than double the 16 cents a share that analysts had been expecting.