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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed stronger on Wednesday, led by gains in energy shares as oil prices rose, with investors looking ahead to a critical European Union debt crisis summit on Thursday and Friday.
Although few expected the EU summit to resolve the region's escalating debt woes there was faint hope for small progress. <MKTS/GLOB>
"We're all waiting to see what happens with the European summit, whether something constructive or useful can be done, and as a result of that I think people are being fairly cautious in their trading," said David Baskin, portfolio manager and president of Baskin Financial Services.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 76.52 points, or 0.68 percent, at 11,410.94.
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) (MDA.TO), which soared 28.3 percent to C$57.25, had the biggest percentage gain of any stock in the index and helped to lead it higher.
MDA's stock rose after it agreed to buy Loral Space & Communications Inc's (LORL.O) satellite manufacturing subsidiary, a deal MDA said will immediately boost its earnings.
"The MacDonald Dettwiler acquisition ... has given it a big boost," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "I think that's the only spot in the market where there has been any real enthusiasm, everything else is pretty marginal."
Hand said the market was relatively quiet ahead of the long weekend in Canada. The market will be closed on Monday for Canada Day.
Oil and gas stocks, up 1.7 percent, played the biggest role of any sector in lifting the Toronto index.
Crude oil futures rose on tighter North Sea supplies and strong U.S. economic data. Prices briefly extended gains after U.S. government data showed crude and distillate stocks fell last week.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose 1.8 percent to C$28.24. In the financial group, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was 1.1 percent higher at C$79.10. The two stocks played the biggest role in pulling the index higher.
Shares of fertilizer producers also rose as U.S. new-crop corn futures hit a nine-month high as operators worried about damage to corn from hot, dry weather in the Midwest grain belt. <GRA/>
Fertilizer stocks typically track the price of fertilizer-intensive corn closely as higher grain prices are likely to spur farmers to increase use of crop nutrients. Potash Corp (POT.TO) rose 1.7 percent to C$44.28.
The index's heavyweight materials sector, which includes gold miners and fertilizer stocks, edged up 0.2 percent. Gold rose slightly in quiet trading, reversing from early losses. <GOL/>
In other company news, Kyrgyzstan's parliament said it will review a contract with Centerra Gold Inc (CG.TO) for its Kumtor gold mine, but a resolution to nationalize the mine was rejected. The company's stock closed down 1.7 percent at C$9.88.
The chief executive of TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) said a new line to carry oil sands crude to Canada's Atlantic coast could also serve markets in Europe and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. Its shares closed up 2.1 percent at C$42.14.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson