* TSX rises 96.02 points to 11,637.04
* Hits highest level since Dec. 4
* Bulk of gains come at start of session (Adds details, comments and official numbers)
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index hit its loftiest level in nearly two weeks on Wednesday en route to a higher close as a rise in oil prices helped push up shares of Suncor Energy (SU.TO) and other oil companies.
Suncor Energy, the biggest contributor to the index's gain, rose 1.7 percent to C$37.90, followed by fellow oil company Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), which gained 2.4 percent to C$71.89.
Energy shares rallied alongside a surge in oil prices to near $73 a barrel after data showed crude stocks in the United States fell more than expected last week. [O/R]
The bulk of the TSX's gain came in the first half of the session before, as has recently been the case, it slipped into a relatively tight range for the remainder of the day.
"The market is at a point now where it is not overvalued, it's not undervalued, it's probably fairly valued here," said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president, at Canaccord Wealth Management in Waterloo, Ontario. "It's going to need some kind of a precipitator to have it move dramatically one way or the other right now."
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE unofficially ended up 96.02 points, or 0.83 percent, at 11,637.04. Earlier it rose to 11,691.73, which marked its highest level since Dec. 4.
($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Reporting by Frank Pingue; editing by Peter Galloway)