Apple to replace AT&T in the Dow Jones Industrial Average

Tech giant Apple is joining the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replacing AT&T. The change is expected to take place after the market close on March 18.

The change will be effective with the opening of trading on Thursday, March 19. The average change was prompted by Visa's 4-for-1 stock split, which is scheduled to be effective at the same time.

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"The DJIA is price weighted so extremely high stock prices tend to distort the index while very low stock prices have little impact," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices in a press release. "Apple's split brought the stock price down closer to the median price in the DJIA. The Visa split will reduce the technology weight in the DJIA and make room for Apple. Among the current DJIA constituents, AT&T has one of the lowest prices."

Apple announced its 7-for-1 stock split last June.

Apple has a market capitalization of about $736 billion, making it the largest publicly traded company in the world. AT&T has a market value of nearly $175 billion.

AT&T did not provide a comment to CNBC.

Apple shares rose, while AT&T dropped more than 1 percent.

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As of Thursday's close, Visa's split, combined with the membership change, will reduce the credit card provider's position in the Dow industrials from first to 21st, lowering its weighting percentage on the blue-chip average to 2.53 percent from 9.71 percent, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior analyst of S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Apple will account for 4.66 percent of the average, Silverblatt added.

Among the most recent changes to the index, Goldman Sachs, Nike and Visa replaced Bank of America, Alcoa and Hewlett-Packard, respectively, in Sept. 2013.