Apple stock continues to gain, as it becomes the second highest rising stock this year on the Standard & Poors 500 index.

Analysts continue to lend their support to the company. Pacific Crest Securities analyst, Steve Lidberg, yesterday raised his target price on Apple's stock to $63 per share.

Lidberg predicts Apple's 2006 earnings will hit $1.65 per share, and is encouraged by improved inventory of iMac G5s and the healthiness of Apple's profit margins.

In related news, Merrill Lynch analyst, Steven Milunovich, remains positive on Apple's fortunes. He expects the company to sell "2.68 million iPods in the December quarter", increasing the iPod user base by 50 per cent.

Such sales are almost four times the number of iPods Apple sold at Christmas last year, he pointed out.

Apple closed at $55.31 per share on trading last night. As the market prepares to open this morning, the stock is valued at $55.67, up 36 US cents.

In a reversal of fortune across the last five years, Microsoft's shares currently stand at $28.47.