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Will Apple's Coming Dividend Increase Push Stocks Higher?

Sunday - 3/24/2013, 3:30pm  ET

When it comes to the S&P 500 , not all stocks are created equal. Aside from the obvious fact that the index includes only 500 stocks from the thousands traded in the public markets, even the chosen few are treated disparately. Unlike the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which weights its component stocks by share price -- a particularly capricious measure -- the broader S&P 500 uses market cap. That is, the larger the market cap, the bigger the influence on the index.

It should be no surprise, in turn, that Apple is the single most important index on the component. While its market cap has come down considerably over the past six months, even temporarily dipping below ExxonMobil's a few weeks ago, it's still the largest company in the United States. At the close of markets on Friday, the figure came in at $434 billion, comfortably beating out Exxon's $400 billion and almost equal to the combined market caps of the next two largest companies, General Electric and Chevron .