Consumer Confidential: Apple stock, Chinese Sims, jobs for vets

Here's your all-the-man-that-I-need Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Tech monster Apple just doesn't have enough impressive news to report. So as a public service, allow me to convey that the company's stock has topped $500 for the first time. It was the latest step in a rally that began more than two weeks ago, when the company reported staggering sales and profits for the holiday quarter. Apple has been trading the position as most valuable company in the world with Exxon Mobil since last summer, but the latest rally has made it 17% more valuable than the oil company. Its market capitalization is now $465 billion, compared with Exxon's $400 billion. (Associated Press)

--What do you give to a nation of more than 1 billion people? An uncrowded, untroubled virtual world, of course. Video game company Electronic Arts is bringing the social network version of its popular game The Sims to China. In the U.S. and other countries, The Sims Social is played on Facebook, but the site is effectively banned in China, where there are more than 500 million Internet users. Electronic Arts says the Chinese version of The Sims Social is currently being developed by its Playfish studio in Beijing. It will be available to players through China's online social network, Tencent Open Platform. The Chinese version of game will be called Mo Ni Shi Guang. (Associated Press)

--Patriotic act or publicity stunt: You be the judge. General Electric says it will hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years and invest $580 million to expand its aviation business. The announcements are part of a four-day event that the company is hosting with partners in Washington that focuses on issues such as manufacturing and job creation in America. GE says its "Hire Our Heroes" partnership will help match veterans with jobs, while its aviation unit will add more than 400 new manufacturing jobs and open three new plants next year. The company plans to double the number of its engineering interns to more than 5,000. It also plans to open several manufacturing training centers to help build job skills. (Associated Press)

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