S&P 500 invites Google in

Google will scrape into the top 20 when it formally replaces Burlington Resources late next week

Google's blue-chip status is now secured, as Standard & Poor's has announced it will include the company on its S&P 500 stock index at the end of March.

The search company enters in the index's top 20, an impressive feat considering it was founded seven-and-a-half years ago and floated less than two years ago. With a market capitalisation of just over $100bn, it will be the nineteenth largest member of the S&P 500.

Google will replace Texas oil company Burlington Resources, which is being acquired by ConocoPhillips, and will officially join the S&P 500 after the close of trade on 31 March, 2006.

Shares of Google rose 9 percent in trading after hours yesterday and more buying is expected as many mutual funds are based on the index.

Google is by far the most popular Web search option in the UK. During February nearly three-quarters of all Web searches in the country utilised its search engine, according to market analyst WebSideStory.

That's higher than the US average for the month (55 percent) and the worldwide average (62 percent).

The rest of the search providers all hold single-digit portions of the UK market. They are, in order: Yahoo (9 percent), MSN (5 percent), AOL (4 percent) and Ask — formerly Ask Jeeves — (2 percent).