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* TSX rises 36.24 points, or 0.28 percent, to 12,872.95 * Nine of 10 main sectors advance * Canadian Natural has biggest positive influence on market * BlackBerry gains 1.3 percent, after an initial decline By John Tilak TORONTO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Thursday as positive U.S. economic data outweighed concerns about the debt crisis in Washington and the future of a BlackBerry takeover deal. Data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to a near six-year low and injected optimism into the market. The market tried to digest news of BlackBerry's $4.7 billion agreement with Fairfax Financial and come to terms with the deal's funding challenges. Volatile shares of the smartphone maker dropped in early trade before gaining 1.3 percent. Investors kept a close watch on debt negotiations in Washington but appeared to brush aside fears of any potential impact, with attention also drifting away from the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy. "We've been through this too many times that people are saying, 'there's going to be some posturing, there's going to be some cliffhanging, but it doesn't mean much as there's no way they're not going to increase the debt ceiling'," said David Cockfield, a portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 36.24 points, or 0.28 percent, at 12,872.95. Sentiment for Canadian equities has been recovering after a sluggish first half of 2013. The TSX has gained 9.5 percent since hitting a low in June. The benchmark Canadian index has outperformed the S&P 500 in the quarter to date, climbing nearly 6 percent. "The U.S. market certainly looks more overpriced than the Canadian market," Cockfield said. "The Canadian multiples have come down to reasonable levels." "People are recognizing that you can make money in Canada as well," he added. The TSX is trading at a price to earnings multiple of 15.67, compared with the S&P 500's 17.39, according to Thomson Reuters data. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Thursday. Shares of energy companies advanced 0.7 percent, benefiting from higher oil prices. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd rose 1.2 percent to C$32.82 and had the biggest positive influence on the market; Suncor Energy Inc was up 0.4 percent, at C$37.25. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained 0.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, climbed 0.3 percent to C$66.52, and Bank of Nova Scotia moved up 0.2 percent to C$59.76. Shares of BlackBerry were trading at C$8.35, helping lift the information technology group.