– TROY WOLVERTON

San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Apple shares rose nearly 2 percent Monday, bringing the iPhone maker within spitting distance of displacing longtime rival Microsoft as the most valuable tech company in the world and having the second-largest stock market value among all U.S. companies.

The Cupertino, Calif., company’s stock was boosted by a research report from Morgan Stanley raising the price target on Apple’s stock to $310 a share from $275 a share.

At the end of regular trading, Apple’s stock was up $4.44, or 1.8 percent, to $246.76.

That gave Apple a total market capitalization of $225 billion, good for third-best among U.S. public companies after Exxon Mobil and Microsoft, which ended trading with a market value of $230 billion.