Singapore shares edged up to a one-week high, led by gains in Fraser and Neave Ltd after a Thai group raised its takeover offer for the property and beverages conglomerate.
At 0358 GMT, the Straits Times Index was up 0.4 percent at 3,225.07 points, its second straight positive session. F&N shares were among of the largest winners, rising as much as 1.8 percent to a record high of S$9.75 before retreating slightly.
By midday, F&N was up 1.4 percent at S$9.71, above the latest S$9.55 a share offer from Thailand's TCC Assets Ltd, headed by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.
This puts pressure on a consortium led by Indonesian tycoon Stephen Riady's Singapore-listed property company Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd to counter the new offer or withdraw from Southeast Asia's largest-ever corporate acquisition.
"Optimism about an improving macro environment and fund flows from bonds to equities should continue to underpin equity markets," said DBS Vickers in a note.
The brokerage said it expects 2013 to be another strong year for offshore and marine companies, as sustained high oil prices will mean continued investment into the sector.
Oil services and equipment providers such as Ezion Holdings Ltd and Ezra Holdings are expected to outperform rigbuilders like Keppel Corp, as steady contract wins help to improve earnings visibility.
Ezion shares were down 1.7 percent at S$1.78 at midday, and they have gained 5 percent since the start of the year. Ezra fell 2.1 percent to S$1.175, but have gained 3 percent so far in 2013.
(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee; firstname.lastname@example.org)
10:12 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Genting Hong Kong at 17-month high
Shares of Genting Hong Kong Ltd rose as much as 6.2 percent to a 17-month high after its part-owned unit Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCL) made a strong market debut on the Nasdaq.
By 0204 GMT, Genting Hong Kong shares were up 2.5 percent at $0.415 with 14 million shares traded, compared to its full day average volume of 17 million shares over the last five sessions.
Genting Hong Kong has jumped 20 percent since the start of the year.
On Friday, shares of NCL, a global cruise line operator, surged 30.5 percent above its initial public offering price of $19 on its first day of trading.
CIMB Research said this values the company at $5 billion versus its estimate of $2.4 billion and the company's initial valuation of $1 billion when Genting Hong Kong bought it in 2000.
"Guidance from the IPO shows that our numbers and valuations of NCL were too conservative," said CIMB, adding that its two new ships will command a 30 percent premium in ticket pricing, making them key growth drivers for NCL and Genting Hong Kong.
CIMB raises its earnings per share forecasts for Genting Hong Kong by 3-40 percent, and said the next big catalyst for its shares would be the listing of Travellers, which develops and operates its Manila integrated resort.