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Amazon emerges as most valuable US firm amid market turmoil

Amazon has eclipsed Microsoft as the most valuable publicly traded company in the US as a see-sawing stock market continues to reshuffle corporate America's pecking order.

The shift occurred today after Amazon's shares rose three per cent to close at $US1,629.51 and lifted the e-commerce leader's market value to $US797 billion. Meanwhile, Microsoft's stock edged up by less than one per cent to finish at $US102.06, leaving the computer software maker's value at $US784 billion.

It marks the first time Amazon has held the top spot and ends Microsoft's brief return to the pinnacle after it surpassed Apple in late November.

The repositioning has been triggered by mounting concerns that the Trump administration's trade war with China and rising interest rates will bog down the worldwide economy. If that were to happen, it's likely to slow the growth of companies in technology and other industries that generate a substantial chunk of their revenue outside the US.

That's one reason most technology stocks are well off their peaks. Amazon, for instance, remains 21 per cent below its high reached in September when the company's stock value stood above $US1 trillion. Apple was worth even more back then, but its stock has plunged by 37 per cent since early October to erase about $US400 billion of its market value.

Apple confirmed some of investors' worst fears last week when it warned that disappointing demand for iPhones, especially in China, caused its revenue for its most recent quarter to fall well below the projections of its management and industry analysts.

An Amazon logo atop the Amazon Treasure Truck The Park DTLA office complex in downtown Los Angeles. Source: Associated Press