Shares of apartment real estate investment trust AvalonBay Communities Inc. rose 5 percent on Wednesday on rumors that Blackstone Group LP may be interested in buying the company, according to a trader and a Web site.

Shares of AvalonBay were up $6.11, at $127.00, in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange, where they were among the top gainers. Shares had risen as high as $129.58 earlier.

Web site said rumors are swirling that AvalonBay is being pursued by Blackstone. The Web site posted an article that appeared Tuesday afternoon on the online version of National Real Estate Investor magazine.

John Christie, AvalonBay senior director of investor relations, declined to comment on the rumor.

Blackstone also had no comment.

AvalonBay's future as a takeover target became a focus of speculation last month after its nearest rival, Archstone-Smith Trust, agreed to be bought by Tishman Speyer and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. for roughly $15.2 billion, plus the assumption of debt.

Analysts at BMO Capital Markets said they believed AvalonBay could fetch $140 per share or more.