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Top 100 companies reach record $17.4 trillion market cap

The biggest 100 companies – corporates and banks – globally have increased their market capitalisation by 12 per cent ($1,861 billion), in the past year, to reach a record $17.4 trillion, according to research by PwC.

Just to put this in context, the GDP of the United States last year was $18.46 trillion (Bureau of Economic Analysis data). The two biggest companies saw their market cap increase in the past year: Apple passed the $800 billion mark in May while Alphabet's market cap stands at $676 billion. Together they account for 8.5 per cent of the total market cap in the world's 100 biggest companies.

US companies account for almost 70 per cent of the growth in the top 100 ranking and account for just over half (55) of the top 100 companies. Overall, US companies have 63 per cent of the market capitalisation. The strongest performing companies were Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Only 22 of the top 100 companies are European, accounting for only 17 per cent of the overall market capitalisation. China and Hong Kong have 11 companies in the top 100.

PwC's Clifford Tompsett said: “The gap between the US largest companies and the rest of the world continues to widen. US companies are exploiting their global reach, financial strength and ability to innovate, a sharp contrast to those in the UK and Europe, which continue to fall behind in the rankings.”

These are some of the key findings in PwC's research:

  • the US dominates, as all companies in the Top 10 are US companies;
  • Europe has 22 companies in the top 100 and the UK has five (the latter down from seven companies last year);
  • two Chinese companies, Tencent and Alibaba, are at number 11 and 12, having raised their ranking significantly in 2017;
  • Apple retains the pole position for the sixth year in a row, with the gap with Alphabet (ex-Google) more than doubling in the past year;
  • the technology sector overtook the financial sector last year and has retained the lead, closely followed by financials.

CTMfile take: This is interesting data and suggests that having Trump in the White House has not yet dented the prospects of the biggest US corporates and banks. There is no end in sight to US domination, despite predictions that power would shift to China during the 21st century. The data also raises the question of how the increasing financial muscle of corporates could play out in future.

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