(Reuters) -- Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday, with risk appetite improving at the start of the new year and as sentiment was boosted by a rally in European stocks and positive Chinese economic data.
Indonesia saw a net foreign inflow of $87.3 million, Malaysia enjoyed net foreign buying of $51.5 million, while Manila saw offshore buying of $6.8 million.
An official purchasing managers' index showing that China's manufacturing activities expanded slightly to 50.3 in December from 49 in November also helped to improve the mood, though analysts said the euro zone debt crisis still remains a major drag on global markets.
Most markets were closed on Monday for the New Year holiday.
We are seeing markets following on from Europe. There's a little bit more positive take on risk in the new year, said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.
But on the whole, it's a little hard to read too much into it until we start seeing all the big players back in the markets and volumes normalize, he added.
Singapore stocks outperformed the region, gaining 1.6 percent. Shares of casino operator Genting Singapore surged as much as 4 percent on expectations of stronger earnings, making it the top traded stock by value on the city-state's bourse.
The Chinese New Year, which begins on Jan 23, is expected to lift the company's business as more people try their luck at the gambling tables, traders and analysts said.
Indonesian shares gained 1.3 percent, while the Philippines advanced 0.6 percent.
However, Malaysian shares fell 1.1 percent as traders booked profit from the index's 1.6 percent gain on the last trading day of 2011.
We are just seeing a natural correction after the last-inute rally last month. We continue to have a 2012 fair
value for the index at 1,466, so we do think it is overpriced at this level, said Chris Eng, head of research at Malaysia's OSK Research.
Vietnamese shares ended 0.4 percent lower, while Thai markets remained closed for the New Year holidays.
(Additional reporting by Shihar Aneez and Mark Tay.)