TOWSON, MD., FEB. 23 -- Black & Decker Corp. pressed its hostile takeover for American Standard today, raising its offer from $65 to $68 cash per share.

The power tool and household appliance manufacturer said its new tender offer, worth about $2.1 billion, would expire at midnight March 7. The previous offer was due to expire at Wednesday midnight.

Today's bid was the third Black & Decker has made for American Standard since Jan. 27. The initial price was $56 per share.

American Standard stock rose 12 1/2 cents to $68.25 a share in early New York Stock Exchange trading today while Black & Decker dipped 12 1/2 cents to $19.37 1/2.

Banker Guy Nielsen of Brown Brothers Harriman and Co. in New York said today he was "kind of surprised" by Black & Decker's new offer.

"The price already is a bit on the rich side," Nielsen said. "They obviously see something I don't see. The bidding has gotten to the point where I can't justify the $68 price. I find a lot of my counterparts don't know how they reached $68."

The Maryland company had said previously it would not go above $65 per share unless it examined American Standard's books.

American Standard has rejected both previous offers as inadequate. Linda King, a spokesman for the New York-based plumbing, heating and air-conditioning manufacturer, said management had no immediate comment on the higher bid.

As of Monday, Black & Decker said 47,900 American Standard shares had been tendered at $65 per share. American Standard has 31.2 million common shares outstanding.