* Jobless claims drop to five-year low

* Apple shares drop a day after results

* Netflix jumps over 40 percent after reporting profit

* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P inches up 0.01 of a point, Nasdaq off 0.7 pct

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The smallest of gains gave the Standard & Poor's 500 its seventh straight winning day on Thursday, but the index failed to hold above the 1,500 line, restrained by Apple's worst day in more than four years.

Apple Inc slid 12.4 percent to $450.50 a day after it posted revenue that missed Wall Street's forecast as iPhone sales were poorer than expected.

The sharp drop wiped out nearly $60 billion in Apple's market capitalization to less than $423 billion, leaving the company vulnerable to losing its status as the most valuable U.S. company to second-place ExxonMobil, at $416.5 billion.

The S&P 500, however, managed to hit its longest winning streak since October 2006.

"The market has sent the message it is no longer driven by the whims of Apple," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

The S&P 500 briefly traded above 1,500 for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007, but failed to hold above it, indicating that momentum is waning and a pullback is in the charts.

"If the market had a little bit more excitement to it, momentum players would have jumped after it broke through 1,500. Investors know the market is a little bit ahead of itself," Polcari said.

Economic data helped buoy equities as U.S. factory activity grew the most in nearly two years in January and new claims for jobless benefits dropped to a five-year low last week, giving surprisingly strong signals on the economy's pulse.

At the same time, Chinese manufacturing grew this month at the fastest pace in about two years, while data suggesting German growth picked up boosted hopes for a euro-zone recovery.

"PMI in Asia, Europe, and obviously, here in the United States, is moving in the right direction, and that's stuff people should be excited about," Polcari said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 46 points or 0.33 percent, to 13,825.33 at the close. The S&P 500 inched up just 0.01 of a point, or 0 percent, to finish at 1,494.82. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.29 points or 0.74 percent, to end at 3,130.38, with most of that loss on Apple's slide.

The broader Russell 2000 index also hit a milestone as it closed above 900 points for the first time.

Video streaming service Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street with a quarterly profit after it added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad. Netflix shares surged 42.2 percent to $146.86, its biggest percentage jump ever.

Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations - above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

About 6.8 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average during January 2012 of about 6.93 billion shares.

Roughly five issues rose for every four that fell on both the NYSE and Nasdaq.

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  • 10. Monsanto

    <strong>2008 Revenue:</strong> $11.365 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 21,700 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $37.85 Billion Most of the agricultural technology industry is based on the production of pesticides and herbicides. Monsanto,however, is at the cutting edge of dozens of crucial agriculture sectors, including genetically modified seeds and animal growth hormones. Despite a large amount of negative press and objections from environmental groups, the fact remains that as the global population continues to grow exponentially, food scarcity will increasingly become an issue. Monsanto's technology, which seeks to maximize crop yields, is a crucial commodity, and that will only increase over time.

  • 9. Cisco

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $40.04 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 70,714 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $95.97 Billion Cisco is the worlds leading company in terms of market share for routers, the devices that makeup the backbone of the Internet. Cisco's hardware, which include these routers, switches, and wireless and security systems,are used by Internet services providers around the world. This includes a large potion of the international telephone, cable, voice, and data infrastructure. Cisco is also one of the primary investors and providers of virtualization software to make large data centers and server farms more productive. All of the core virtualization software originates from a few technology operations in the US. Cisco is also the leader in video communications with products which run from high-end teleconferencing to home video solutions.

  • 8. General Electric

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $104.635 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 287,000 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $210.03 Billion GE is the largest provider of sophisticated energy infrastructure in the world. This includes wind turbines, hydro-electric power, nuclear energy, and solar power-all of the strategic sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuel. It also has one of the largest water management businesses in the world. GE is also one of the world's primary providers of highly advanced medical devices, MRI systems, nuclear cardiology, and oncology diagnosis. GE's third strategic business is jet engines, which it designs and manufactures for both the aerospace and military sectors. GE specializes in the development of low-emission engines. GE is routinely on the list of companies which are granted the most patents by the US each year.

  • 7. Intel

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $43.623 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 82,500 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $111.85 Billion Intel,the world's largest chipmaker, builds semiconductors which power the majority of the world's PCs and servers. The company has also taken a position in the production of hardware for complex portal devices. The global technology company was awarded the eighth most patents in the world last year and the third-most by an American company. Among Intel's latest breakthroughs is its new "Fusion" chip, in which graphics cards and processors are part of the same component, and a working microchip 32 nanometers in size. These tiny chips and the more complex versions Intel has developed have allowed breakthroughs in system processing speeds and dramatically increased the efficiency of businesses. Intel's importance to American business is not limited to chip technology - the company also owns McAfee, the world's largest Internet security company - a business that will become increasingly important to global corporations and governments as cybercrime becomes increasingly sophisticated.

  • 6. Lockheed Martin

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $45.803 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 133,000 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $28.27 Billion The ability to efficiently make war has gone from a model based on men and machines to one which is in part based on software, communications systems, and sophisticated hardware. The US remains the world's arms merchant because of weapons complexity and flexibility. Lockheed Martin is the largest military contractor in the world, and forms part of the backbone of the America's military technological advantage. It produces state-of-the-art weapons systems, including unmanned drones, the keystones of the future of modern warfare. Lockheed Martin is also one of the key contributors to American space technology, which accounts for about 20% of its revenue. Lockheed was awarded $38 billion in contracts from the U.S. government last year.

  • 5. Boeing

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $64.306 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 160,500 <strong>Market Cap:</strong>$53.57 Billion The number of seats sold to passengers on commercial airlines this year will be more than 2.5 billion. The airline industry has become the most critical part of a transportation sector that allows people and cargo to travel great distances in short amounts of time. Boeing is the world's largest plane maker. It is also the US's largest exporter. Boeing's products cannot be designed or manufactured anywhere in the developing world. The company has only one competitor in the commercial aviation market-Airbus. Boeing also is a leading military and space contractor.

  • 4. IBM

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $99.870 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 426,751 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $195.17 Billion IBM amassed 5,896 patents in 2010, making it the first company to get more than 5,000 patents in a single year, according to patent research organization IFI Claims Patent Services. The 400,000 employee company is as close as the world has to a universal supplier of IT software, sales, service, and consultancy for every one of the world's large business sectors. IBM has critical operations in a number of strategic parts of the technology industry such as carrier grade Internet security, cloud computing, database management, and enterprise mainframe computers. IBM is also the leader in emerging global technologies which include service-oriented architecture and information on demand.

  • 3. Pfizer

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $67.809 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 110,600 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $162.3 Billion One of the core goals of the vast pharmaceutical sector of the global economy is to cure disease and prolong life. Most people who do not die of malnutrition, starvation, or war are killed by communicable diseases such as AIDS, heart and vascular disease, cancer and the effect of obesity. This puts advanced drug development at the center of one of the largest business sectors in the world-one which touches tens of billions of people every day. Pfizer, headquartered in New York City, is the largest pharmaceutical company in sales. In 2010, the company had revenue of just under $68 billion. About $39 billion of this came from sales outside of the United States. Pfizer also has the largest R&D department in the pharmaceutical industry with scores of major treatments in its product pipeline.

  • 2. Google

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $29.321 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 24,400 <strong>Market Cap:</strong> $188.7 Billion Google's mission, according to the company, "is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." In the 13 years since the company's founding, Google has come close to accomplishing this goal on a global scale. Started by two graduate students at Stanford University, Google is a prime example of American ingenuity and innovation. The company indexes the Internet for a huge portion of its users, effectively controlling how people seek and receive information. The word "Google" has even become synonymous with the act of searching for information on the Internet. The search company is by far the largest in the world and has migrated rapidly from PCs to mobile devices. Google has other businesses which are not large financially but have a profound affect on how technology inter-operates between machines and people. The most dominant of these is the Android mobile operating systems which powers millions of smartphones and other portable devices around the world.

  • 1. Microsoft

    <strong>2010 Revenue:</strong> $62.484 Billion <strong>Number of Employees:</strong> 89,000 <strong>Market Cap:</strong>$216.87 Billion Microsoft plays a significant role in the way that enterprises and governments around the world are organized and operate. The personal computer revolutionized the way business is done. Some pundits argue that Microsoft has become irrelevant, which is ludicrous. The company's software is at the heart of most of the world's computers. It would be hard to call products which are still so universally used obsolete. According to research firm Gartner, in 2008 there were more than one billion PCs in use, and by 2014 there will be two billion in use. Most PCs currently use a Microsoft operating system. As of February 2011, Microsoft's Windows operating system had just under 90% market share, according to analytics firm Net Applications. Microsoft Office's suite of spreadsheet and word processing programs similarly dominate the business software market. The company's influence can also be seen in terms of its size. It currently has the third largest market cap in the US, $216.87 billion. The Windows OS is and will be for some time irreplaceable.