Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS), which both operate casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, are advancing after research firm Sterne Agee wrote that Macau gaming revenues have been higher than expected so far this month. In a note to investors earlier today, Sterne Agee analyst David Balu wrote that Macau gross gaming revenue, or GGR, increased 27% during the first ten days of December, compared with the same period in 2011. Balu had previously expected Macau's GGR to rise just 11% in December, and he now anticipates that GGR will rise 16% this month. Several factors are contributing to Macau's strong performance, including less restrictive visa requirements, improvements in China's economy, and the strengthening of China's currency, the analyst wrote. Meanwhile, other firms are likely to increase their Macau revenue estimates for 2013, Balu believes. He maintained Buy ratings on both Melco Crown and Las Vegas Sands. In mid-morning trading, Melco climbed 34c, or 2.26%, to $15.62 and Las Vegas Sands rose $1.00, or 2.30%, to $44.56.