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Ahead of the Bell: MGM Resorts

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst is lifting his price target for MGM Resorts International, citing improving conditions in the Las Vegas and Macau markets.

Robert LaFleur of Cantor Fitzgerald said in a client note that for the fourth quarter-to-date, MGM Resorts' room rates are up in Las Vegas. This is in addition to higher rates in the third quarter, which includes the traditionally slower summer period.

The analyst said the casino and lodging company is also in good shape in Las Vegas heading into next year, as there are a number of conventions scheduled, group booking trends look good and there is solid demand among business travelers.

As for Macau — the only place in China where gambling is legal — LaFleur said that it appears that China's economy is gaining momentum.

"In our view, underlying strength in the Chinese economy will be a positive catalyst for gaming revenue growth in Macau in both the VIP and mass segments," the analyst wrote.

LaFleur increased MGM Resorts' price target to $23 from $20 and reaffirmed a "Buy" rating.

Its shares finished at $19.86 in trading on Monday. They are near the upper end of their 52-week range of $9.15 to $20.30.