Driven by banks, the total value of the world's largest 500 listed companies, measured by market capitalization, increased by 13% to $26tn in 2012, a report by QNB Group said.
The increase was principally driven by banks whose market capitalizations rose 29% to $4.2tn in 2012, the report said citing Financial Times data.
Five companies from the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council), including two Qatari firms, made it into the Global 500 for 2012. The two Qatari companies were QNB Group with a market capitalizations of $25bn and a ranking of 356th and Industries Qatar ($23bn, ranked 384th).
The other GCC companies were Sabic and Al Rajhi Bank of Saudi Arabia and the UAE-based telecommunications company Etisalat.
A number of factors led to a strong recovery in bank share prices in 2012. These included the easing of tensions in the eurozone despite the fact that fundamental challenges remain, relating to the region's sovereign debt, weak economic growth and rising unemployment.
The collective increase in market capitalization for the seven US banks in the Global 500 was $195bn in 2012, 17% of the value of banks in the rankings.
In Europe, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Unicredit were the "strongest contributors" to bank market capitalization growth in 2012. These banks benefited from the easing of eurozone tensions, QNB said.
The 11 Chinese banks in the Global 500 at end-2012 accounted for 23% of the sector's market capitalization, ahead of the US banks' 17% share. Taken together, the 11 top Chinese banks' market capitalization grew by 11% to $962bn in 2012.
The largest Global 500 company is Apple, with market capitalization growth of 33% to $501bn during 2012. Samsung Electronics posted capitalization growth of 53% to $228bn in 2012. Both these companies were boosted by strong sales of their top-end mobile handsets. This drove a 14% increase in market capitalization of the technology & hardware equipment sector to $1.4tn.
Software and computer services grew 17% to $1.1tn market capitalization in 2012.