Shares of Web search leader Google Inc. hit a new benchmark of $600 in early trading on Monday, fueled by investor confidence in the strength of its Internet advertising technology.

Google shares briefly hit $600 for the first time, a key threshold for the company which priced at $85 per share at its initial public offering in 2004.

In recent weeks, some analysts have forecast the company could reach a $700 share price in the next year as it competes more fiercely with rival Yahoo Inc. and gains a foothold in new forms of Web marketing, including online video.

On Friday, Bear Stearns was the latest firm to say Google could hit the $700 mark, calling it one of the best operating companies it covers in the Internet sector.

Google continues to gain market share in search queries while continuing to face a bevy of competitors, Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck wrote in a note to clients.

Further, Google's efforts in online video, radio, and print, have added a layer of value that is absent from its competitors' portfolio of offerings and which has the potential to yield significant financial rewards, Peck said.

Google was up 0.8 percent to $598.55 in morning trading on the Nasdaq. The shares traded as high as $601.45 during the session.

(Reporting by Michele Gershberg)