SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc has reserved space in late January at a venue in San Francisco in advance of a planned product announcement, the Financial Times reported on its blog on Wednesday.

The company has rented a stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and is expected to make a major product announcement on Tuesday, January 26, the report said, citing people familiar with the plans.

Apple declined to comment. The Yerba Buena Center could not immediately be reached for comment

The report comes amid mounting excitement about Apple's rumored plans to release a tablet computer. Apple has never confirmed the existence of the device -- which is said to resemble a larger iPhone or iPod touch -- but speculation has been rampant for months.

The FT report did not say whether Apple planned to unveil the tablet at the January event, but some analysts believe the company will launch the device in the spring, possibly in March.

Apple used the Yerba Buena Center last September when it hosted an iPod event that featured the first public appearance by Chief Executive Steve Jobs following his return from medical leave.

Shares of Apple closed up $1.74, or 0.9 percent, at $202.10 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Gary Hill)